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"Correspondences", a poem inspired by the mystical theory of Spiritualist Emanuel Swedenborg
By:Charles Baudelaire, French poet (Paris 1821—1867)

Introduction to the poem: Dr. Hugo Heyrman - Museums of the Mind (section about Synesthesia):

In Paris 1857, Baudelaire wrote "Correspondances", arguably his best-known poem. This work beautifully introduced Baudelaire's theory of Synaesthesia: the idea that the senses can and should intermingle was enjoying a brief vogue, but its deeper significance was its prioritizing of symbol over symbolized. Inspired by the mystical theory of "Correspondences", a Swedenborgian term referring to the idea that every form in Heaven "corresponds" to a form on Earth, Baudelaire had come to believe that the artist's unique ability to represent truth un-didactically, through symbols and metaphors, was of immense importance.

Note from this webmaster: If you understand/speak French, please try/read first the original French poem, with rhyme, as it has a magic that any translation cannot achieve, of course:

Correspondances
(original poem by Charles Baudelaire, in French)

La nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles
L'homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
Qui l'observent avec des regards familiers.

Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent
Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité,
Vaste comme une nuit et comme la clarté,
Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent.

Il est des parfums frais comme de chairs d'enfants,
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
—Et d'autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,

Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies,
Comme l'ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l'encens,
Qui chantent les transports de l'esprit et des sens.



Correspondences
(English version)

Nature is a temple where living pillars
Let escape sometimes confused words;
Man traverses it through forests of symbols
That observe him with familiar glances.

Like long echoes that intermingle from afar
In a dark and profound unity,
Vast like the night and like the light,
The perfumes, the colors and the sounds respond.

There are perfumes fresh like the skin of infants
Sweet like oboes, green like prairies,
—And others corrupted, rich and triumphant

That have the expanse of infinite things,
Like ambergris, musk, balsam and incense,
Which sing the ecstasies of the mind and senses.

Photo: Charles Baudelaire (1863 - approx 42 years old)