Charles Baudelaire, father of the French prose poem (and thus progentior of the genre internationally), used prose as the medium of choice for the manifesto, the plea, the diary entry, the dialogue, the truncated story, the anecdote that falls just short of the parable, the elaborated epigram. The "Petits Poemes en prose" (also known as "Spleen de Paris") have not, to my mind, been transated well since Arthur Symons's versions, which are 100 years old. Among the most famous of the fifty-one prose poems is "Enivrez-Vous," commending a state of drunkenness as an almost moral imperative. Baudelaire, who also wrote "Artificial Paradises," understood escapism as a need and not just an addiction. Here is my version of the poem. I took a few liberites with the opening paragraph. -- DL
You must get drunk. That’s it: your sole imperative. To immune yourself from the backbreaking, body-bending burdens of time, you must get drunk and stay that way.
But on what? On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, your choice. But get drunk.
And if sometimes, while on the steps of a palace, on the green grass beside a marsh, in the morning solitude of your room, you snap out of it, your drunkenness has worn off , has worn off entirely, then ask the wind, ask an ocean wave, a star, a bird, a clock, every evanescent thing, everything that flies, that groans, that rolls, that sings, that speaks, ask them what time it is; and the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, will tell you: “It’s time to get drunk! To avoid being the martyred slaves of time, get drunk, get drunk and stay that way. On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, your choice.”
-- Charles Baudelaire (trans. David Lehman)