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The Flowers of Evil

July 3, 2015

It is hard to explain how alchemy, the philosopher’s stone, and the spiritual aspects of our human characteristics reflect themselves through Art. Music is primarily the essence of that, which we may symbolize and name it as “Beauty,” or “Truth” per se. However, it is because of Literature that we begin to understand it. It is because of Literature that we globally understand symbols of communication (that we call “words”) to perceive it, and share it. And it is through those words that we shade or light on that which is always with us, inside us, outside us, through us, and beyond us.
 

It was when Paul Verlaine was a young boy that he read Charles Baudelaire’ Les Fleurs de Mal and inspired him to write, consequently joining the other Parnassian poets. Maybe it takes such a vivid, dark poem like this to truly inspire the Reader in one way…or another…

 


 

"The Flowers of Evil"

By Charles Baudelaire
 

Infatuation, sadism, lust, avarice
possess our souls and drain the body’s force;
we spoonfeed our adorable remorse,
like whores or beggars nourishing their lice.

 

Our sins are mulish, our confessions lies;
we play to the grandstand with our promises,
we pray for tears to wash our filthiness
importantly pissing hogwash through our styes.

 

The devil, watching by our sickbeds, hissed

old smut and folk-songs to our soul, until
the soft and precious metal of our will
boiled off in vapor for this scientist.

 

Each day his flattery makes us eat a toad,
and each step forward is a step to hell,
unmoved, though precious corpses and their smell
asphyxiate our progress on this road.

 

Like the poor lush who cannot satisfy,
we try to force our sex with counterfeits,
die drooling on the deliquescent tits,
mouthing the rotten orange we suck dry.

 

Gangs of demons are boozing in our brain-
ranked, swarming, like a million warrior-ants,
they drown and choke the cistern of our wants;
each time we breathe, we tear our lungs with pain.

 

If poison, arson, sex, narcotics, knives
have not yet ruined us and stitched their quick,
loud patterns on the canvas of our lives,
it is because our souls are still too sick.

 

Among the vermin, jackals, panthers, lice,
gorillas and tarantulas that suck
and snatch and scratch and defecate and fuck
in the disorderly circus of our vice,

 

there’s one more ugly abortive birth.
it makes no gestures, never beats its breast,
yet it would murder for a moment’s rest,
and willingly annihilate the earth.

 

It’s BOREDOM. Tears have glued its eyes together,
you know it well, my Reader. This obscene
beast chain-smokes yawning for the guillotine--
you—hypocrite Reader—my double—my brother!

 

*** 
 

It is clear what this poem presents and how we understand its “dark” world with its images, metaphors and similes. Baudelaire was brought to trial in 1857 for “offences against public and religious morals.” Indeed, it was his intention to shock the Reader. However, with a vivid spiritual torment that makes a human vision as corrupted and fallen, he directly presents our vices in a way that implicitly and emotionally makes us reflect upon them. It is upon to us (the reader) to hopefully give importance to overcome those vices and find the light to our virtues.
 

The devil, watching by our sickbeds, hissed
old smut and folk-songs to our soul, until
the soft and precious metal of our will
boiled off in vapor for this scientist.
 

He mentions sickbeds in reference to Boredom, how; with our minds we let our thoughts create our “evil ways.” How we let our heads go through our vices: lazyness, hatred, lust, avarice, remorse, etc. Notice how he presents our will as a “precious metal.” Alchemy considered the metals to be a "metaphor" for our spiritual development to transform our earthly vices into virtues; metals into Gold, considering “Gold” the most pure transition metal; transferring the “energy” received purely given away, cleanly, without being corrupted by our earthly vices. He says how our will is boiled off for this scientist, how our will disappears for this devil because we are constantly cycling and recycling our “evil ways” through what we know (our “earthy metals we need to spiritually purify”) and keep on doing the same mistakes “Like the poor lush who cannot satisfy” as in our heads “Gangs of demons are boozing in our brain-” even if we think we are doing the right thing, it is our egoistical strategy of doing things to get the pleasure in what we want define our “evil ways.” And if we do not learn…
 

If poison, arson, sex, narcotics, knives
have not yet ruined us and stitched their quick,
loud patterns on the canvas of our lives,
it is because our souls are still too sick.
 

…it is because the bad things that happened to us (of our “evil ways” of thinking) have not been powerful enough to make us change. And even if they have been powerful to make us change, it is up to us to change or keep suffering because our souls may be “too sick.”
 

So these beautiful flowers of evil, these vices of lies, betrayal, laziness, hatred, lust, sadism, etcetera and etcetera, reflect to us who we are in a raw imperfect earthly manner, or as philosopher’s stone analogy would present it: “we are a stone with rough ends.” And there’s so much to develop ourselves (to become "diamonds" with time) that “Ennui” may be the starting point to the wrong road.
 

“Ennui” is a surviving word from Classical Latin phrase: mihi in odiō est, meaning “I hate or dislike” which gave rise to Vulgar Latin word inodiāre “To make odious” and then source to the Old French verb anoier “to annoy or bore” and noun “worry, or boredom,” which later became became Ennui in modern French.
 

So is this the seed and root of "Evil"? to worry? to bore others? to hate and dislike? to annoy? We usually tend to make mistakes because we let our mind think a certain way beyond of what it is presented, and our fears are what trigger those thoughts; these are the metals we must purify, so when we sniff at the flowers of evil, we can proudly keep them at the bay with our consciousness and practice the light of our virtues instead.

 

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May 17, 2015

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(VII)

 

The

Art, Music & Literature:
Facundo Raganato

Artistic Photographs of The Author:
Scott Redinger-Libolt
www.redphoto.com

Book Cover Design:
Patricia Gil &
Facundo Raganato

Book Cover Photo:
Laura Mintz

© 2014 by Facundo Raganato. 

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