Charles Baudelaire


He who looks through an open window from the outside, never sees as much as he who looks at a closed window. There is no object more profound, more mysterious, more fecund, more obscure, more dazzling than a window lighted by candle. What can be seen in sunlight is always less interesting than what happens behind a windowpane. In this black or luminous hole life lives, life dreams, life suffers.

Beyond the waves of roofs, I see an older woman, already wrinkled, poor, who is always bent over something, and who never goes out. From her face, her dress, her gestures, from almost nothing, I constructed this woman’s story, or rather her legend, and sometimes retell it to myself weeping.

If it had been a poor old man, I would have reconstructed his life just as easily.

And I go to bed, proud of having lived and suffered though others.

Maybe you will say to me “Are you sure this legend is correct?” What does it matter what the reality is, as long as it helps me to live, know I exist and know what I am?

— translated from the French by Bea Mahood