Reading Charles Baudelaire’s Paris Spleen, it becomes clear why he was a cornerstone in Ezra Pound’s cult of ugliness. Through 51 short pieces of writing in the form of poetic prose, Baudelaire provides an assembly of petri dishes to cultivate his satirical observations on the social behaviors of fellow Parisian citizens. And the only time Baudelaire is not presenting a mocking negative is when partaking in the indulgence of escapism, which really can’t be considered a positive at all unless under the age of twenty-five.
But I was able to find one brief section which could be classified within Pound’s cult of beauty. While darkness remains in the writing (and written from the perspective of an opium induced intoxication?), the final image is born from the same necessary shadows for all sincere beauty (from No. 22, 'Evening Twilight'):
Night! Refreshing gloom! You permit me to start my inner festivities; you free me from anguish! In the solitude of plains, in the city’s labyrinth of stones, scintillation of stars, explosions of lamplight, you are the fireworks of the goddess Liberty!
Dusk, how soft and gentle you are! The rose glow lingering on the horizon, death throes of the day dispatched by triumphant night, candelabra light splashing the final glory of sunset with opaque red, the heavy drapes an invisible hand draws from deep in the Orient, imitate all the complicated feelings warring in men’s hearts at life’s solemn moments.
Or what comes to mind is a ballerina’s strange attire, whose dark, translucent gauze hints at a dazzling skirt’s muted splendour, as a delicious past pierces the murky present; and gold and silver stars glittering on that skirt are imagination’s fires, catching only when Night dons deep mourning.