The Flowers of Evil

by: Charles Baudelaire

Wine, Death, and Revolt

Summary Wine, Death, and Revolt

All of these final poems about travel inevitably lead to a depressing spleen. Incapable of surmounting the contradictions of existence ("the rash of love"), the speaker concludes that death is the only truth. Rather than soothing the scene, the radiant heat of the island "burns the body" of the victim and hastens his decomposition. Everyone else sees a "charming sky" and a "unified sea," but for the speaker all is bloody chaos. He soon rejects his free will, asking the captain of his ship to lead him toward the unknown. Death becomes the only certain release from an oppressive reality that has stalked the speaker around the globe. Through these lines, the speaker serves as a negative example, a warning: Baudelaire exhorts us toward innovation and imagination, urges us to continue to pursue our own visions through art--even if these visions involve evil--rather than let others dictate what we should see.

The Flowers of Evil: Popular pages