Summary Of Charles Baudelaire's Une Charogne

1423 Words6 Pages
There is a notorious doom and gloom to Charles Baudelaire’s writing that is unique to the poet, but of all the variously despondent adjectives used to describe his work, one I think best encompasses is “twisted.” Baudelaire’s poetry is twisted, not just twisted as in grotesque imagery and disturbing content, but he literally warps popular conventions to suit his style. Thus, while the overall poem may seem familiar, a closer look reveals Baudelaire’s signature dark flair that leaves the reader feeling strangely uncomfortable. “Une Charogne,” or “A Carcass,” best exemplifies what I call Baudelaire’s twisted approach. Published in Baudelaire’s 1857 poetry collection Fleurs du Mal, or Flowers of Evil, “Une Charogne” depicts a speaker reminiscing…show more content…
However, the subject matter is a decomposing carcass with “so frightful… the stench” (15). The speaker also goes into great detail about the carcass, likening it to a woman, as previously mentioned. Later in the poem, Baudelaire takes the blason a step further: the speaker departs from his first comparison to proclaim that his lover will one day be like the carcass as well: “—And yet you will be like this corruption, / Like this horrible infection” (37-38). He uses various terms of endearment, including “Star of my eyes” and “sunlight of my being” to gild his words (39). While the terms of endearment may sound like flattery, in truth, the speaker’s true message is his lover’s death and decomposition. In the last stanza, the speaker makes another romantic declaration: once his lover dies and becomes “this corruption,” he will “[keep] the form and the divine essence” of his “decomposed love” (47-48). Here, he claims to immortalize his lover and their love through the poem “Une Charogne” itself. This sounds romantic and flattering as well, but in her article for The French Review, “Pétrarchisant sur l 'horrible: A Renaissance Tradition and Baudelaire 's Grotesque,” Cynthia Grant Tucker argues that it is actually a punishment for the woman “by confronting her with her mortality in the most…show more content…
To borrow the words of Tucker, “… Baudelaire 's intention was not to rhapsodize his mistresses as his forebears had done” (888). “Une Charogne” is an intricate anti-Petrarchan piece; Baudelaire not only mocks Petrarchan ideals of beauty, but he attacks the blason by making it his own and using the uncanny to highlight its flaws in dehumanizing women and reducing them to body parts and flesh. Baudelaire reminds readers that the reason his poem is unsettling is not only because it is about an aestheticized carcass, but because the conventions he borrows to describe the carcass, the very same ones used to describe women, are questionable and troubling. He uses Petrarchan conventions to implode its own system. By taking the blason to the extreme, he highlights its problems and showcases its true
Open Document