The poem “Hymn to Beauty” by Charles Baudelaire is best known in the translation of Ellis (the pseudonym of Lev Kobylinsky, a symbolist poet of the early twentieth century). It is the analysis of this translation that will be carried out.
The title of the poem already contains an indication of the genre. The anthem is, as a rule, chanting, glorification. Therefore, it is logical to assume that in his work, Charles Baudelaire sang this same beauty. However, as you read The Anthem, it becomes clear that things are not so simple. Beauty is charming, attractive, but merciless. This contrast was also reflected in the composition: the whole poem is built on the antithesis. Turning to Beauty, the lyrical hero asks questions: “Do you come from the stars or rise from the black pit? From God or Satan, who cares? Angel or Siren?” What caused such questions? Is a man entitled to doubt the divine origin of beauty?
In the fourth quatrain there will be an answer:
You walk upon corpses which you mock, O Beauty!
Of your jewels Horror is not the least charming
Yes, on the one hand, beauty brings joy and light, inspires, makes you transform. But on the other hand, how many people fall prey to this, in general, abstract concept. This means that beauty entails death. It is no coincidence that Baudelaire’s companion of Beauty is the Demon, who “is like a dog with you relentlessly.”
If you recall that one of Baudelaire’s favorite motives is the fusion of the beautiful and the ugly (seemingly incompatible!), Then it’s quite understandable why there is a transformation of beauty into death (“Here is a moth … flies to you – burns, blessing you … “), and then merging with love, acquiring a smack of decomposition:
The panting lover bending o’er his fair one
Looks like a dying man caressing his own tomb
Yes, having passed through death, Beauty is reborn like a Phoenix from the ashes, but then the question again arises of the duality of this concept, because the hero cares what Beauty really is: “the brainchild of heaven” or “the creature of hell”, “a monster or pure dream. “
It should be noted that Baudelaire’s worldview allows appeal to both God and Satan: “Who cares, if you make?” Is it all the same that “I am glad to sow joy and intrigues”, that someone “fell great in the dust, having drunken your lips with an enchanting urn”? The main thing is that “you, Queen of Beauty, are freeing the world from painful captivity.” The queen is forgivable!
Returning to the question of the genre of the work, it is difficult to determine to the end whether the hero glorifies or curses the beauty. Rather, it is a feeling that writers often call love-hate. In any case, the poem “Hymn to Beauty”, like any other poem, is designed to excite the minds and hearts of people, evoke reciprocal feelings and desires, and most importantly, allows you to think about the true nature of beauty, its significance in the life of any person. The author calls to exalt Beauty, submit to its power and submit to it forever. Will Beauty reciprocate? After reading this poem, one cannot understand it definitely. After all, the “mysterious and silent power” of Beauty.
More than a hundred years have passed since the writing of this work, but people continue to create a cult of beauty. Times are changing – the canons of beauty are changing. And what was beautiful in the 19th century, today can be considered ugly, as for many, perhaps, the hideous beauties of Titian with immense waist and hips seem ugly.