Signed autograph letter "Charles Baudelaire" to Alphonse de Calonne [Paris], February 23, 64, 1 p. In-8° on blue paper with embossed stamp "BATH" in the upper right corner. Autograph address on the back, signed "C." Small old repair with tape on the broken seal, without affecting the text. Baudelaire asks Alphonse de Calonne to return the manuscripts of three sonnets and announces the upcoming sending of prose poems, which will form "Le Spleen de Paris" (The Spleen of Paris).
"Dear Sir, Have you published three sonnets of mine, "Le Tasse en prison" (Tasso in Prison), "Le gouffre" (The Abyss), "Bien loin d'ici" (Far Away from Here), which I gave to you some time ago? If they have not been published, it would make me very happy if you could find them and give them to the bearer. There is one in particular (Le Tasse) that I have been searching for in vain in my memory.I will soon have at least three sheets to give you; a heavy work, I assure you, but I am quite satisfied with it. Please accept, dear Sir, the assurance of my perfect sentiments. "Sur Le Tasse en prison d'Eugène Delacroix" was composed in 1844 (according to a note by Albert de La Fizelière, the poet's first biographer, in the upper margin of the manuscript, of which he was the owner at that time). At the end of 1863, Baudelaire had a copy sent by La Fizelière in the form of a letter to Alphonse de Calonne of the Revue contemporaine, but the latter never published it. On the day before our letter, on February 22, Baudelaire asked La Fizelière to send him another copy because the poet wanted to have it published by Albert de Collignon in the Revue nouvelle, this time with more success as it would be published on March 1 following.
The same sonnet is later found in "Les Epaves" (The Wrecks), a section added to "Les Fleurs du Mal" (The Flowers of Evil) in 1866. In these verses, Baudelaire seems to speak of his own physical and mental decline, embodying himself in Torquato Tasso in the asylum for the insane (1839), a painting by Delacroix that is mentioned here. "Le Gouffre" (The Abyss) is first published in the magazine L'Artiste on March 1, then in La Revue nouvelle exactly two years later, and finally in Le Parnasse contemporain on March 31, 1866. The poet's voice becomes aware of death, generating distressing and even neurotic situations. "Bien loin d'ici" (Far Away from Here) is published in La Revue nouvelle and then in Le Parnasse contemporain on the same dates as "Le Gouffre", but also a week earlier in another magazine, on February 23.This suggests that Baudelaire was actively seeking publication. In this poem, he takes up motifs from "Les Fleurs du Mal" such as exoticism and the sensual woman. When one knows the poet's perpetual striving for perfection, such a statement may seem paradoxical.
Alphonse de Calonne, founder and director of La Revue contemporaine, never published the three sonnets mentioned by Baudelaire. They appear in the posthumous edition of "Les Fleurs du Mal" in 1868 by Michel Levy, in the section "Spleen et idéal" (Spleen and Ideal), under the numbers CI, CII, and XCIX - according to the order mentioned in our letter. Minnoret-Rochambeau Collection, Drouot Auction, April 20-21, 1948, n°14.