Consecration – Charles Baudelaire

Dear Monsieur Baudelaire,

I have now read your poem “Consecration” and my first reaction is “oh dear”. At first, I thought you i.e. the poet in the poem, bitter and angry, but reaching the last four stanzas, I understand that you believe in your work, your poetry.

“Consecration” is a hard title. You do not repeat the term in the poem and it is one of those words with a substantial meaning and weight, so forgive me for glancing at a dictionary.

Consecration: noun

  1. The act of consecrating; dedication to the service and worship of a deity.
  2. The act of giving the sacramental character to the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine, especially in the Roman Catholic Church.
  3. Ordination to a sacred office, especially to the episcopate.

I believe that it is the poet, who is consecrated, despite the lack of support from his mother and wife. Were you ever married, Monsieur? I think not as I have not found it mentioned. However, I understand that your mother (and the rest of your family) were less than supportive about your literary path. In the poem, you give voice to the mother and the wife. Perhaps you understand them to some degree.

“Consecration” is a mismatch of deities in my opinion. God is there, Jewish Gehenna, Angels, old idols, and harpies no less. I also read some Earth-bound paganism with winds for playmate and with clouds for nurse. The wildest notion is the parallel between the poet and Jesus with a crown, cast off by humanity, but seeking praise in Heaven.

I like the narrative style, where you let the mother speak first, raising her fist to the Heaven, then the wife, who is a harlot and gold-digger and then the messiah-like poet.

With the two poems, I have read now, I find it difficult to imagine your smile or your laughter. You seem to have turned your back on humanity with your mystic crown of pure light. Are you on a high horse or are you isolated in your literary pursuit?

Sincerely,

Louise.

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