by Charles Baudelaire
This life is a hospital in which each patient is possessed by the desire to change beds. One wants to suffer in front of the stove and another believes that he will get well near the window.
It always seems to me that I will be better off there where I am not, and this question of moving about is one that I discuss endlessly with my soul
“Tell me, my soul, my poor chilled soul, what would you think about going to live in Lisbon? It must be warm there, and you’ll be able to soak up the sun like a lizard there. That city is on the shore; they say that it is built all out of marble, and that the people there have such a hatred of the vegetable, that they tear down all the trees. There’s a country after your own heart — a landscape made out of light and mineral, and liquid to reflect them!”
My soul does not reply.
“Because you love rest so much, combined with the spectacle of movement, do you want to come and live in Holland, that beatifying land? Perhaps you will be entertained in that country whose image you have so often admired in museums. What do you think of Rotterdam, you who love forests of masts and ships anchored at the foot of houses?”
My soul remains mute.
“Does Batavia please you more, perhaps? There we would find, after all, the European spirit married to tropical beauty.”
Not a word. — Is my soul dead?
Have you then reached such a degree of torpor that you are only happy with your illness? If that’s the case, let us flee toward lands that are the analogies of Death. — I’ve got it, poor soul! We’ll pack our bags for Torneo. Let’s go even further, to the far end of the Baltic. Even further from life if that is possible: let’s go live at the pole. There the sun only grazes the earth obliquely, and the slow alternation of light and darkness suppresses variety and augments monotony, that half of nothingness. There we could take long baths in the shadows, while, to entertain us, the aurora borealis send us from time to time its pink sheaf of sparkling light, like the reflection of fireworks in Hell!”
Finally, my soul explodes, and wisely she shrieks at me: “It doesn’t matter where! It doesn’t matter where! As long as it’s out of this world!”