Anne Pia's responses to Baudelaire's poetry is not only emotional and intellectual but also linguistic. It comes from her profound love for France's language and culture, particularly when it looks beyond nationhood.
As she writes in her passionate and illuminating introduction, "[Baudelaire] luxuriates and furiously dismisses. He rages and yet he speaks soft words. He is tender. He yearns, aches and seductively persuades. A creator of vivid visuals and sublimely evocative music, a conjuror of mist, soft light and of exotic scents, a sculptor and a weaver of tapestry and texture through a mere interplay of words and skilful verse and stanza, Baudelaire - whether jubilant or bitter - is never light-hearted, always honest, intense, disturbing."
The challenge Pia set herself was to recreate some of this powerful mix in our English language, which has perhaps ceased to look for inspiration beyond itself since it became so dominant. And she has succeeded in this challenge quite remarkably, drawing the reader into the intimacy of her own intellectual and artistic journey with deep European roots.
In this volume we have published the original French poems Pia has chosen and her poetic responses in English, along with her literal translations of the originals. It is a bold move in a "language not of its time", which demands our engagement.