Letras perfumadas – “Correspondencias” de Charles Baudelaire

imagen:  "Source between two rock walls", 1881  artista: Arnold Böcklin

imagen: It-is-snowing-in-nakonxipan.blogspot.com  
“Source between two rock walls”, 1881 artista: Arnold Böcklin

Correspondencias

La Naturaleza es un templo cuyos vivientes pilares, dejan a veces escapar confusas palabras. El hombre posa allí a través de bosques de símbolos, que lo observan con miradas familiares.

Como largos ecos que de lejos se confunden en una tenebrosa y profunda unidad —vasta como la noche y como la luz— los perfumes, los colores y los sonidos se responden.

Hay perfumes frescos como carne de niño, dulces como los oboes, verdes como las praderas. Y hay otros corrompidos, ricos y triunfantes, que tienen la expansión de las cosas infinitas, como el ámbar, el almizcle, el benjuí y el incienso, que cantan los transportes del espíritu y los sentidos.

Charles Baudelaire

De “Las flores del mal” – Traducción de Ulyses Petit de Murat. Ediciones DINTEL, 1959. Fuente: http://www.lamaquinadeltiempo.com/Baudelaire/correspo.htm

El lenguaje descriptivo de los perfumes echa mano de la música y de los colores. Notas, composición, armonía, acordes son algunos de los conceptos musicales que la perfumería se ha apropiado. Lo mismo sucede con lo verde, lo ambarado, lo transparente, lo oscuro de un perfume: son los matices e intensidades con los que percibimos el espíritu de un olor.

La pregunta sería: los perfumes, los colores y los sonidos ¿se corresponden porque no tenemos palabras específicas para hablar de los olores? ¿o es que percibimos los olores sinestésicamente, es decir, sentimos los estímulos olfativos determinados por sensaciones propias del sentido auditivo y visual, e incluso el táctil?

Baudelaire encuentra “la expansión de cosas infinitas”, “del espíritu y los sentidos”, en ciertos ingredientes. Aunque osaríamos agregar algunos ítems más a la lista del poeta, coincidimos con los apuntados por él. Especialmente con el benjuí, esa resina sensual, oscura y camaleónica que puede apreciarse sublimemente gourmand y avainillada en Fragonard Fleur de Vanille; radiante y rojo en Sisley Eau de Sisley N3; y dorado sobre el opopanax en Carthusia Ligea.

Perfumes “dulces como los oboes”… cuáles vienen a su mente?

Virginia y Caro

foto: Ov-rothrist.ch

foto: Ov-rothrist.ch

Scented Letters – “Correspondences” by Charles Baudelaire

In Nature’s temple, living pillars rise,
Speaking sometimes in words of abstruse sense;
Man walks through woods of symbols, dark and dense,
Which gaze at him with fond familiar eyes.
Like distant echoes blent in the beyond
In unity, in a deep darksome way,
Vast as black night and vast as splendent day,
Perfumes and sounds and colors correspond.

Some scents are cool as children’s flesh is cool,
Sweet as are oboes, green as meadowlands,
And others rich, corrupt, triumphant, full,
Expanding as infinity expands:
Benzoin or musk or amber that incenses,
Hymning the ecstasy of soul and senses.

Charles Baudelaire

Source: http://fleursdumal.org/poem/103 — Translation by Jacques LeClercq, “Flowers of Evil” (Mt Vernon, NY: Peter Pauper Press, 1958)

The descriptive language of perfumes borrows a lot of words from music and painting. Notescomposition, harmonychords are some of the musical concepts that perfumery has appropiated  to itself. The same happens with the greeness, the amberiness, the transparency, the darkness of a perfume: they’re the hues and intensities with which we perceive the spirit of a smell.

The question is: do perfumes, colors and sounds correspond because we don’t have specific words to talk abou scents? Or is that we perceive scents in a synesthetic way, that is to say, we feel the olfactive stimuli determined by sensations belonging to hearing and sight, even by the sense of touch?

Baudelaire finds “expanding as infinity expands”, “the ecstasy of soul and senses”, in some ingredients. Although we dare to add another items to the poet’s list, we agree with his selection. Especially with benzoin, that sensual, chameleonic and dark resin that can be appreciated in different and sublime ways: gourmand vanilla in Fragonard Fleur de Vanilleradiant and reddish in Sisley Eau de Sisley N3and golden over opopanax in Carthusia Ligea.

As for perfumes “sweet as are oboes”… which ones come to your mind?

Virginia & Caro

5 responses to “Letras perfumadas – “Correspondencias” de Charles Baudelaire

  1. To me, oakmoss and galbanum reflect a variety of different shades across the green-black spectrum. I’m not sure if that is what you were asking though. Still, chypres are the ones that I usually see as greens, while Orientals as differing shades of fiery red, bronze, gold and orange.

    Visually, I see Bandit as green so dark that it’s black, Mito as varieted shades of green and yellow, and some fake, quasi-chypres that use purple fruity patchouli as purples. Like the new Le Labo Ylang 49. (I HATE purple patchouli and perfumes that use it in heavy doses. Blech.) For me, purple is a colour that should only be of the soft, lilac variety in perfumery, like the exquisite, haunting, melancholic De Profundis from Serge Lutens. And, oddly, ylang-ylang usually translates in my mind as a buttercup yellow. Somehow, for me, that’s all synesthetic. I truly see the colours flashing in my mind’s eye. I have no idea if I’ve answered what you asked, if you were really asking about notes, or more about specific perfumes. Forgive me if I just rambled completely off-topic. LOL. 🙂

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    • Dear Kafka

      You have given a great whole answer! Yes, that is synesthetic. It is almost impossible to describe and feel a fragrance without colors in mind.
      I personally love galbanum and oakmoss! Each one has not only colors but even textures. The same as vetiver and patchouli. By the way, now I have to try purple patchouli: curiosity stirred up in me.
      Always a pleasure having you in Té de Violetas.
      Cheers
      Virginia

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  2. I am tempted to ask you what color Iso E Super would be, dear Kafka 😉
    Thank you for an inspiring answer.
    xoxo
    Caro

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