Friday, January 18, 2013

Does The Carcass have biblical illusions?

In Baudelaire' poem The Carcass, a theme throughout is that although the carcass has died, it serves as food for other life such as the maggots to live off of.  This reminded me of the verse from the Bible, Genesis 3:19 that says "for dust you are and to dust you will return."  The carcass is returning to dust as it serves as food for other life.  This other life will eventually return to the dust too as they eventually die and will service other new life that is born.  As one life dies another is born.

6 comments:

Madeline Davis said...

I see how those two could be related, but I think the tone of the dust passage and "A Carcass" are very different. I'm pretty sure the dust reference was what God said to Adam and Eve when He expelled them from Eden, so it takes a very "check yourself before you wreck yourself" kind of tone because they fell from innocence and are being punished for their actions with labor and having to provide for themselves. On the other hand, I feel that "A Carcass" takes a sweeter tone and focuses more on the beauty of returning to nature after death.

Laura N said...

Yes, I think a Baudelaire’s description of what happens to the carcass and the bible’s description of what happens to you when you die are very similar. In the poem it says the sun cooks the cadaver, “till done,/ and render[s] to Nature the hundredfold gift/ of all she’d united in one.” To offer/ return the body to Nature (to the scavengers, the insects and the dogs) is very similar to the biblical description. I find it interesting that neither Baudelaire nor the Old Testament makes any mention of a spiritual afterlife, since after all, that’s what most people believe/ wish for when they croak: to know that their life isn’t really, totally, completely over. The speaker does say that the lover is immortalized through the poem so maybe that’s a comment on the longevity/ immortality of literature. The poem and the bible just describe what happens to the body, and they both describe it in a very humbling manner.

TSHAH said...

I think thats a great allusion, but I think that Baudelaire's speaker is attempting to address the duality of the nature of death. He seems to give very dark and blatant descriptions to describe that death is evident and may happen whenever as indicated when he makes the sudden shift from the first two lines which are loving to the dark image of a carcass lying in the middle of the road. However he simultaneously describes the nature of death as pleasant and beneficial to the surrounding nature. For example in Laura's quote the sun is cooking the cadaver which is a quite disgusting image, however later he invokes the image of a gift provide by the carcass which is quite pleasant.

Tyler Dean said...

I agree with madeline completely. In Genesis it seems like adam and eve are being chastised, but in A Carcass the narrator makes it seem good and natural that she will eventually be eaten by worms. Baudelaire is talking more about the oxymoronic nature of death: the sadness that comes with it, but also the life it brings and sustains. Also, just after that he takes a neo-platonic view on life. He says that his poem is immortalizing the lover, ad he references the idea of the forms that were so prevalent back in the day.

Ian J said...

In Genesis, it does indeed talk of people returning to dust once they die. There is also a reference to the "dust" in Shakespeare's "Hamlet". I feel like references to dust and such are very common in literature. These are not the only pieces of literature that take advantage of this good anoligy. I believe the use of such a literary technique is quite useful as it really makes the reader ponder their fate after death, because I know it made me. Does anyone else feel this way?

Ben Bonner said...

I think the decaying of the body and the return of its materials to nature is more archetypal than biblical. Baudelaire takes a very moderate view towards death, and even manages to find some beauty in the flies and maggots swarming the carcass. This in particular seems very contrary to Judaism's and Christianity's aversion towards death.