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10 June 2010

feeling decadent

Most of decadents were debauchees, social failures, scandalous or rebellious figures, they advocated non-reproductive sexuality (or simply did not care about the possible illegitimate children), were fascinated by what was to be developed philosophically by Nietszche as “nihilism” and thought that materialism had come to a dead end without cherishing the Romantic ideal of a return to innocence and detachment as they were city-dwellers always in search for alcohol, drugs, sexual opportunities and exchanges of ideas (newspapers were then engaged in real intellectual battles, the world of the theatre was restless and noisy, cabaret life and café society were in full swing…). It is the time when the image of the artist as a damned poet, penniless and suffering from some shameful (preferably venereal) disease, was frozen to become the stereotype we have known until these days (you may be amused to learn that the term ‘bohemian bourgeois’ already existed then as younger members of well-to-do families could not resist the Bohemian world of temptations that cities, artists and high-and-low characters provided) (...) Behind all the irony, the subtleties and the elegance to be found in them, they are first of all the fruit of anger and rebellion against the morals of their times. The decadents are much more immoral than amoral ; there is something bellicose in their art which attacks, exposes and turns upside down whatever stable, healthy and ‘promising’ comes their way. Deviance had become their calling. credi

the picture of dorian gray (via wikipedia)

The Moon  more indolently dreams to-night
Than a fair woman on her couch at rest,
Caressing, with a hand distraught and light,
Before she sleeps, the contour of her breast.
Upon her silken avalanche of down,
Dying she breathes a long and swooning sigh;
And watches the white visions past her flown,
Which rise like blossoms to the azure sky.
And when, at times, wrapped in her languor deep,
Earthward she lets a furtive tear-drop flow,
Some pious poet, enemy of sleep,
Takes in his hollow hand the tear of snow
Whence gleams of iris and of opal start,
And hides it from the Sun, deep in his heart.

- Charles Baudelaire

 Caresses (detail) by Fernand Khnopff

The Sphinx by Franz von Stuck. 

The Rain in the Pine Wood

Hush. On the edge

Of the woods I do not hear
Words which you call
Human; but I hear
Words which are newer
Spoken by droplets and leaves
Far away.
Listen. Rain falls
From the scattered clouds.
Rain falls on the tamarisks
Briny and parched.
Rain falls on the pine trees
Scaly and bristling,
Rain falls on the myrtles-
On the broom-shrubs gleaming
With clustered flowers,
On the junipers thick
With fragrant berries,
Rain falls on our faces-
Rain falls on our hands-
On our clothes-
On the fresh thoughts
That our soul discloses-
On the lovely fable
That yesterday
Beguiled you, that beguiles me today,
O Hermione.
Do you hear?
The rain is falling
On the solitary
With a crackling that persists
And varies in the air
According to the foliage
Sparser, less sparse.
The weeping is answered
By the song
Of the Cicadas
Which are not frightened
By the weeping of the South wind
Or the ashen sky
And the pine tree
Has one sound, and the myrtle
Another sound, and the juniper
Yet another, instruments
Under numberless fingers.
And we are
Immersed in the spirit
Of the woodland,
Alive with arboreal life;
And your ecstatic face
Is soft with rain
As a leaf
And your hair
Is fragrant like
The bright broom-flowers,
O earthly creature
Whose name is
Listen, listen. The harmony
Of the high-borne cicadas
Gradually becomes
Beneath the weeping
That grows stronger;
But a song mingles with it-
Rising from down there,
From the far damp shade.
Fainter and weaker
It slackens, fades away.
Only one note
Still trembles, fades away.
Rises again, trembles, fades away.
One hears no sea voice.
Now one hears upon all the foliage,
The silvery rain
That cleanses,
The pelting that varies
According to the foliage
Thicker, less thick.
The daughter of the air
is mute; but the daughter
Of the miry swamp, in the distance,
The frog,
Is singing in the deepest shade,
Who knows where, who knows where!
And rain falls on your lashes,
Rain falls on your black eyelashes
So that you seem to weep
But from pleasure; not white
But made almost green,
You seem to emerge from bark.
And within us all life is fresh,
The heart in our breasts is like a peach
The eyes between the eyelids
Are like springs in the grass,
The teeth in their sockets
Are like bitter almonds.
And we go from thicket to thicket,
Now joined, now apart
(And the rough green vigour
Entwines our ankles,
Entangles our knees)
Who knows where, who knows where!
And rain falls on our faces-
Rain falls on our hands-
On our clothes-
On the fresh thoughts
That our soul discloses-
On the lovely fable
That yesterday
Beguiled me, that beguiles you today,
O Hermione.

- Gabriele D'Annunzio

"I want to drink poisons, to lose myself in mists, in dreams!" - Diana, in The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Gustave Flaubert

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