Baudelaire's poem makes clear that beauty is actually closer to a form of death, acting like a drug that poisons one's mind, creates addiction and finally brings one closer to death.
The very title of the book of poems the flowers of Evil which associates the flower, a conventional representation of beauty with "evil," announces a different kind of poetic testimony. Examining Baudelaire's volume of poems, Marcel a Ruff points out that
"Les Fleurs du Mal constitutes an examination of conscience, that examination is not limited to the person of Baudelaire; it extends to all humanity. but, whatever errors are divulged, it remains a scrutiny, at times accompanied by a warning. It is never a condemnation. and, when others are concerned, the poet does not fail to express his compassion" (the Centennial Celebration of Baudelaire's Les Fleures du Mal, p. 44).
Hymn to Beauty although a very personal confession, is indeed like the rest of the volume, the cry of a human being tormented by doubt and despair and very short moments of happiness on the way the find the purity of form. The poet is painfully aware that he belongs to a long line of human beings who have undertaken the painful journey of finding perfection in an imperfect world. The struggles to break free from the spell it casts upon those caught in its power appear as doomed to fail. Beauty's powers are infinite and their sources come form the imperfection of this world.
Considering the time and place Baudelaire lived in, D.J. Mossop assesses the quest for happiness, continuous source of pain for the poet and human being, as a result of the human instinct that drives people to engage in it even if they know they will fail. Beauty, which is in fact, the Ideal the poet is looking for, is according to Mossop "is a state of pleasurable excitement towards which man is constantly striving but which, owing to the limitations of his own nature and the imperfections of his environment, he can enjoy for brief moments only" (Baudelaire's Tragic Hero: A Study of the Architecture of Les Fleurs du Mal). The nineteenth century was the time of the industrial revolution, the age of romanticism and modernism, the century of scientific breakthroughs through revolutionary discoveries in every scientific field, the ancient vision of the world being seriously challenged through the power of science. In times like those, it was only natural that an artist like Baudelaire would question the purpose of suffering in the quest for beauty, the Ideal.
Baudelaire expresses his quest to find beauty in another poem titled "Beauty" as his aspiration for eternity. The poet is eager to transcend his human condition and through his art to become immortal, a statute worthy of his fellow poets worship: "Conceive me as a dream of stone: / my breast where mortals come to grief, / is made to prompt all poet's love, mute and noble as matter itself" (Les Fleurs du Mal, "Beauty," p. 24).
Baudealire's poems dedicated to beauty appear as written in the torments of a lover whose muse is as illusive as a dream. The poet often describes his search for perfection and thus for immortality as a lover efforts to subjugate the object of his passions, completely surrendering to he effects of carnal love. The beauty he finds in the woman, be it the muse or the real creature, is as illusive as a dream. However, as long as he will be a poet, he knows he will try to escape beauty's manipulative ways of keeping him in her power and fail.
Baudelaire, Charles.Howard, Richard. Fleurs du Mal, David R. Godine Publisher, 1983
Baudelaire, Charles. Waldrop, Keith. The Flowers of Evil. Wesleyan University Press, 2006
Baudelaire Charles. The Centennial Celebration of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs Du Mal. Marcel a Ruff. The Evil in the Flowers. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1958
Mossop, D.J. Baudelaire's Tragic Hero: A Study of the Architecture of Les Fleurs Du Mal.…