Notable Quotes
Browse quotes by subject | Browse quotes by author


French poet (1821-1867)

What do I care if you are good? Be beautiful and be sad!

What do I care if you are good?
Be beautiful! and be sad!


Art is an infinitely precious good, a draught both refreshing and cheering which restores the stomach and the mind to the natural equilibrium of the ideal.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, preface, Salon of 1846

It is necessary to work, if not from inclination, at least from despair. Everything considered, work is less boring than amusing oneself.


Sexuality is the lyricism of the masses.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, Mon coeur mis à nu

There are in every man, always, two simultaneous allegiances, one to God, the other to Satan. Invocation of God, or Spirituality, is a desire to climb higher; that of Satan, or animality, is delight in descent.


Nature is a temple where living pillars
Sometimes emit confused words;
There man passes through the forests of symbols
Which observe him with familiar looks.


The more delicate and ambitious the soul, the further do dreams estrange it from possible things.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "L'invitation au voyage"

It might be pleasant to be alternately victim and executioner.


He who looks in through an open window never sees so many things as he who looks at a shut window. There is nothing more profound, more mysterious, more fertile, more gloomy, or more dazzling, than a window lighted by a candle. What we can see in the sunlight is always less interesting than what goes on behind the panes of a window. In that dark luminous hollow, life lives, life dreams, life suffers.


Everything, alas, is an abyss, — actions, desires, dreams, words!


It is good sometimes that the happy of this world should learn, were it only to humble their foolish pride for an instant, that there are higher, wider, and rarer joys than theirs.


Evil comes up softly like a flower.


Imagination is an almost divine faculty which, without recourse to any philosophical method, immediately perceives everything: the secret and intimate connections between things, correspondences and analogies.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, New Notes on E. Poe, part III

Evil is done without effort, naturally, it is the working of fate; good is always the product of an art.


There exist only three beings worthy of respect: the priest, the soldier, the poet. To know, to kill, to create.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, Mon coeur mis à nu

Happy is the man who can with vigorous wing
Mount to those luminous serene fields!
The man whose thoughts, like larks,
Take liberated flight toward the morning skies
--Who hovers over life and understands without effort
The language of flowers and voiceless things!


There is in a word, in a verb, something sacred which forbids us from using it recklessly. To handle a language cunningly is to practice a kind of evocative sorcery.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "Théophile Gautier," L'art romantique

The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "Le Joueur généreux," Le Spleen de Paris

Ant-swarming city, city abounding in dreams,
Where ghosts in broad daylight accost the passerby!

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "The Seven Old Men," Flowers of Evil

The study of beauty is a duel in which the artist cries out in terror before being defeated.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "Le Confiteor de l'artiste," Le Spleen de Paris

Unable to do away with love, the Church found a way to decontaminate it by creating marriage.


God is the only being who need not even exist in order to reign.


Imagination is the queen of truth, and possibility is one of the regions of truth. She is positively akin to infinity. Without her, all the faculties, sound and acute though they may be, seem nonexistent; whereas the weakness of some secondary faculties is a minor misfortune if stimulated by a vigorous imagination. None of them could do without her, and she is able to compensate for some of the others. Often what they look for, finding it only after a series of attempts by several methods not adapted to the nature of things, she intuits, proudly and simply. Lastly, she plays a role even in morality; for, allow me to go so far as to say, what is virtue without imagination?

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "Lettres à M. le Directeur de La revue française", Salon de 1859

Progress, that great heresy of degenerates.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "Notes nouvelles sur Edgar Poe III," L'art romantique

The soul is a thing so impalpable, so often useless and sometimes so embarrassing that I suffered, upon losing it, a little less emotion than if I had mislaid, while out on a stroll, my calling-card.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "Le Joueur généreux," Le Spleen de Paris

Soon we will plunge into the cold darkness;
Farewell, vivid brightness of our too-short summers!

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "Chant d'Automne," Flowers of Evil

What matters an eternity of damnation to someone who has found in one second the infinity of joy?

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "Le Mauvais Vitrier," Le Spleen de Paris

Modernity is the transitory, fugitive, contingent, is but one half of art, of which the other half is the eternal and immutable.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "La Modernite," La Peintre de la Vie Moderne

It is at once by way of poetry and through poetry, as with music, that the soul glimpses splendors from beyond the tomb; and when an exquisite poem brings one’s eyes to the point of tears, those tears are not evidence of an excess of joy, they are witness far more to an exacerbated melancholy, a disposition of the nerves, a nature exiled among imperfect things, which would like to possess, without delay, a paradise revealed on this very same earth.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "Notes nouvelles sur Edgar Poe III," L'art romantique

This life is a hospital where each patient is possessed by the desire to change his bed.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "Anywhere Out of the World," Le Spleen de Paris

Alas, the vices of man, as horrifying as they are presumed to be, contain proof (if only in their infinite expansiveness!) of his bent for the infinite.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "Le poème du haschisch," Les Paradis Artificiels

Do not look for my heart any more; the beasts have eaten it.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "Causerie," Flowers of Evil

There is no sweeter pleasure than to surprise a man by giving him more than he hopes for.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, "La Fausse Monnaie," Le Spleen de Paris

And yet
to wine, to opium even, I prefer
the elixir of your lips on which love flaunts itself.


Nothing can be done except little by little.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, My Heart Laid Bare and Other Prose Writings

Browse Charles Baudelaire Quotes II

Charles Baudelaire Poems - a collection of his poetry.

Charles Baudelaire Bibliography - a bibliography, including list of critical resources.


Life Quotes

Love Quotes

Death Quotes

God Quotes

Wisdom Quotes

Hope Quotes

Success Quotes

Women Quotes

Happiness Quotes

Shakespeare Quotes