Baudelaire’s Réversibilité

Les Fleurs du mal Anguish of Angels Baudelaire

Baudelaire’s Reversibility

‘Angel full of gaiety, do you know anguish,
Shame, remorse, sobs, vexations,
And the vague terrors of those frightful nights
That compress the heart like a paper one crumples?
Angel full of gaiety, do you know anguish?’
—Charles Baudelaire, from ‘Réversibilité’, 1857 (transl. William Aggeler)

Is it the abyss that joins us, holds us together..? Sometimes it’s pertinent to ask which century Baudelaire was writing for…

‘The special beauty of so many of the openings of Baudelaire’s poems lies in this: a rising up from the abyss.’
—Walter Benjamin, ‘The Writer of Modern Life,’ 1939

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