Ts Eliot Essay Baudelaire

Ts Eliot Essay Baudelaire-34
This simplifying engine, a combiner of binary oppositions, is beautifully applicable to other generic categories—particularly that of the prose poem. Eliot claimed in his 1917 essay "Reflections on Vers Libre" that so-called "free verse" is a fallacious category—that its apparent divergence from so-called "formal verse" is only an illusion.Poe’s “Southern” temperament reacted against both North American puritanism and commercialism: Poe reacted against “a country where the idea of utility, the most hostile in the world to the idea of beauty, dominates and takes precedence over everything” (, 126).

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They are once again brought into relation with the aesthetic, not as objective forces imposing on it from the outside but as forces subject to redefinition, subject to the control of the aesthetic, and distilled from the essence itself of subjectivity.

Significantly, Baudelaire’s notion of imagination is articulated in reaction against the classical precept that one should “copy only nature.” Baudelaire’s rejoinder to this precept is: “Nature is ugly, and I prefer the monsters of my imagination to the triteness of actuality” (, 300).

All the powers of the human soul must be subordinated to the imagination, which commandeers them all at one and the same time” (, 186).

What arranges the world, then, is not divine providence or the canons of truth or morality; all of these are now subjected to the aesthetic power of imagination, which is now newly invested with the functions of truth and morality in their subjectively reconstituted and reauthorized form.

Notwithstanding his lifestyle and his artistic views, Baudelaire was a believer in original sin, and was deeply repelled by the commercialism of the modern world, which he regarded as a fallen world.

In his depraved,” and ridiculed the idea of progress.5 He saw progress as possible only within the individual; he affirmed the importance of ultimate questions concerning the purpose of human existence, and was profoundly antipathetic to bourgeois values, describing commerce as “in its very essence, , 69).Clearly, in much of this essay, Poe’s views become the mouthpiece for Baudelaire’s own sympathies, and Baudelaire reiterates Poe’s antipathy to progress and civilization as his own: progress is the “great heresy of decay,” on which Poe vented his spleen. In the beginning of the world it created analogy and metaphor.The concept of progress merely compensates for man’s fallenness: “Civilized man invents the philosophy of progress to console himself for his abdication and for his downfall” ( Baudelaire is in accord with Poe on a number of issues: the mediocrity of the entire bourgeois system of values and their political incarnation in the form of democracy, the natural fallenness of humankind, the autonomy of poetry, and the aim of poetry as beauty. Cold, calm, impassive, the demonstrative mood rejects the diamonds and the flowers of the Muse; it is then absolutely the inverse of the poetic mood” (, 132). It decomposes all creation, and from the materials, accumulated and arranged according to rules whose origin is found only in the depths of the soul, it creates a new world, it produces the sensation of the new” (, 181).Per Eliot’s argument, there’s no such thing as prose poetry, either—as its divergence from verse poetry is discernible only via logic’s via negativa, the description of what it isn’t.The category of prose poem is about as useful a sorting tool as the three races into which humans were divided in 1684 by Francois Bernier.Hence, in this influential notion, Baudelaire adapts toward his own ends an idea that had already informed many aesthetic theories (such as those of Swedenborg, Schelling, Germaine de Staël, and Sainte-Beuve).In his sonnet, Baudelaire sees the earth and its phenomena as a “revelation” of heavenly correspondences, and it is the poet who must decipher these.In general, the French symbolists, including Baudelaire and Stéphane Mallarmé, reacted against the explicit rationalism, materialism, and positivism of the bourgeois world and, like the Romantics, exalted the role of poet and artist.Baudelaire’s ideas about beauty may have been inspired by the German philosopher Schelling, and from 1852 he was also deeply influenced by Poe (though he arrived independently at many of his analogous insights), and shared his views on poetic autonomy and the poetic imagination.Baudelaire notes that for Poe, “Imagination is the queen of faculties.” What is interesting, however, is that the definition of imagination offered by Baudelaire is not Poe’s but his own, implying a system of correspondences that is not formulated in Poe’s work: “Imagination is an almost divine faculty which perceives immediately and without philosophical methods the inner and secret relations of things, the correspondences and the analogies” ( Baudelaire further developed his ideas of the imagination, saying that this “queen of faculties . the strongest weapon in our battles with the ideal is a fine imagination with a vast store of observations at its disposal” (, 182).Hence, even though truth and morality are rigidly expelled by Poe and Baudelaire from the province of the aesthetic, they are effectively subsumed under the control of the very power which creates the aesthetic, the power of imagination.


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