Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Paul Verlaine: On Decadence

“all shimmering with purple and gold. . . it throws out the brilliance of flowers and the gleam of precious stones, made up of carnal spirits and unhappy flesh and all the violent splendours of the Lower Empire; it conjures up the paint of the courtesans, the sports of the circus, the breath of the tamers of animals, the hounding of wild beasts, the collapse among the flames of races exhausted by the power of feeling, to the invading sound of enemy trumpets. The decadence is Sardanapalus lighting the fire in the midst of his women, it is Seneca declaiming poetry as he opens his veins, it is Petronius masking his agony with flowers.”

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