“Be Drunk” by Charles Baudelaire

Wine, poetry, or virtue, as you wish…

Yesterday I spent the morning out and about with my little girl and a friend, stopping for breakfast and wandering the historic center of town on the first beautiful day we’ve had in weeks. As toddlers do, Maddalena ran from object to object exclaiming “Guarda!” (“Look!”) or “Wow!” for every little thing. My friend commented how wonderful it would be if we adults spent just one day like that, finding wonder in every little thing.

So we tried it. We ran around for a few minutes pointing at garbage cans and sign posts and people and dog poop, smiling big goofy smiles and exclaiming “Guarda!” And of course the world was suddenly much more entertaining, despite any looks askance from passersby. Maddalena thought this was a good game indeed. 

Later, I watched from afar as she ambled in front of me, arms outstretched, smiling up at the sky, zigzagging like a drunken bee, and I thought, that’s it. Toddlers are little drunken bees, experiencing the world from their who-cares haze, and we should all take a lesson in how to buzz through our days.

And that reminded me of this old white guy and his admonition to “Be Drunk.”

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)

From the looks of the later picture, though, it seems like Charlie could have used a bit more wine.

Granted, it’s a bit of a downer considering it’s from his treatise on decadence, Les Fleurs du Mal (Flowers of Evil), and it most definitely has nothing to do with the joy and innocence of toddlerhood (I mean, look at the depressing picture I chose to illustrate it).

Nonetheless, these are the connections my brain made, and so today I am looking at it from the perspective of a drunken bee, choosing to see the positive in it, and spending some time frolicking. Won’t you join me?

I can barely conceive of a type of beauty in which there is no Melancholy.


Amusing tidbit (from PoemHunter.com):

Upon getting his degree in 1839, Baudelaire told his brother, “I don’t feel I have a vocation for anything.” His stepfather had in mind a career in law or diplomacy, but instead Baudelaire decided to embark upon a literary career. His mother later recalled: “Oh, what grief! If Charles had let himself be guided by his stepfather, his career would have been very different…. He would not have left a name in literature, it is true, but we should have been happier, all three of us.”


I hope you will join me this April for a month-long poetry extravaganza! This year my project — with your help! — is to create daily “community collections” of poems on a given theme. I have lined up 31 incredible poets and verse novelists who will be bringing you a poem and a writing prompt every day of the month (+1). I will then update each post with *your* poetic responses to complete our themed collection.

Keep your eyes peeled for the “calendar of poets” coming your way near the end of March!

Frolic on over to Michelle’s place at Today’s Little Ditty to drink up some more Poetry Friday elixir.

See more poems in my poetry video library.
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