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The Rhyme Maker
Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire

Theme:   Tributes and Toasts

Who of us has not thrilled to the triumphant sound of the marching band or felt the blues in the sounds of a lone sax in the night?  Whether it be a sonata or a sonnet, music and poetry touch us on the same level.  With poetry, we find that the words are the music.  With music, we find poetry without words.  Franz Liszt, one of the most revered composers, pianists and conductors of all time, was a poet.

A thyrsus was a staff carried by the followers of Dionysus in their devotions (wine parties) to their favorite god.

In the last paragraph, the “Eternal City” is a reference to Paris.  Cambrinus was the mythic “King of Beers”, credited with creating beer in the folklore of the small burgs of Europe.
- S. H.  Bass  

more Charles Baudelaire at

from Les fluers du mal (The Flowers of Evil):

Hymn To Beauty  *  A/V
The Soul Of Wine
The Wine Of LoversA/V
The Wine Of The Murderer*
The Wine Of The Rag-Pickers 
The Wine Of The Solitary*

Prose poems:
Be Drunk* A/V

* multiple Englsh translations


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The Thyrsus: To Franz Liszt (a prose poem)
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet
translated by Franklin P. Sturm (1879-1943), British poet

What is a thyrsus? According to the moral and poetical sense, it is a sacerdotal emblem in the hand of the priests or priestesses celebrating the divinity of whom they are the interpreters and servants.  But physically it is no more than a baton, a pure staff, a hop-pole, a vi
picure of a prop dry, straight, and hard.  Around this baton, in capricious meanderings, stems and flowers twine and wanton;  these, sinuous and fugitive;  those, hanging like bells or inverted cups.  And an astonishing complexity disengages itself from this complexity of tender or brilliant lines and colors.  Would not one suppose that the curved line and the spiral pay their court to the straight line, and twine about in a mute adoration?  Would not one say that all these delicate corollae, all these calices, explosions of odors and colors, execute a mystical dance around the hieratic staff? And what imprudent mortal will dare to decide whether the flowers and the vine branches have been made for the baton, or whether the baton is not but a pretext to set forth the beauty of the vine branches and the flowers?

The thyrsus is the symbol of your astonishing duality, O powerful and venerated master, dear bacchanal of a mysterious and impassioned Beauty.  Never a nymph excited by the mysterious Dionysus shook her thyrsus over the heads of her companions with as much energy as your genius trembles in the hearts of your brothers.  The baton is your will:  erect, firm, unshakable;  the flowers are the wanderings of your fancy around it:  the feminine element encircling the masculine with her illusive dance.  Straight line and arabesque intention and expression the rigidity of the will and the suppleness of the word a variety of means united for a single purpose the all-powerful and indivisible amalgam that is genius what analyst will have the detestable courage to divide or to separate you?

Dear Liszt, across the fogs, beyond the flowers, in towns where the pianos chant your glory, where the printing house translates your wisdom;  in whatever place you be, in the splendor of the Eternal City or among the fogs of the dreamy towns that Cambrinus consoles;  improvising rituals of delight or ineffable pain, or giving to paper your abstruse meditations;  singer of eternal pleasure and pain, philosopher, poet, and artist, I offer you the salutation of immortality!

from Baudelaire: His Prose and Poetry (1919)


Les Fluers du Mal (The Flowers of Evil)
 by Charles Baudelaire / Richard Howard (trans.)

  French and English.  
  Award-winning translation


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