“Satan, take pity on my long misery!” 

France’s greatest Modernist poet, Baudelaire was a tragic and melancholy figure with a reputation as a decadent and a dandy and a not-so secret personal despair that led him to produce some of the beautiful but scandalous verses of the age. After dabbling in political revolution, Baudelaire published his groundbreaking collection The Flowers of Evil in 1857; its seamy poems about sex, death, and the profanity of viltal life inspired, as one fellow writer put it, “admiration and anxious fear.” His “Litanies of Satan” and a few other poems were so provocative that some printings of the book still excise them even well into the 21st century.