Thoughts about two poets McKuen and Baudelaire!


So I am not into poetry all that much, well, except when the poetry is in a song, but two poet’s names caught my eye on Wikipedia last week, the first was Rod McKuen and the second was Charles Baudelaire.

Rod McKuen in 1972




Last Thursday, January 29th, Rod Mckuen passed away at the age of 81. Back in the 60s and the 70s I listened to and read the poetry of  Rod McKuen. But since he stopped performing live in 1981, and because his poetry was never loved by the critics, I don’t think that his poetry is being talked about in school, so here is a little about Rod from Wikipedia…..

Rodney Marvin “Rod” McKuen (April 29, 1933 – January 29, 2015) was an American singer-songwriter, musician and poet. He was one of the best-selling poets in the United States during the late 1960s. Throughout his career, McKuen produced a wide range of recordings, which included popular music, spoken word poetry, film soundtracks and classical music. He earned two Academy Award nominations and one Pulitzer nomination for his music compositions. McKuen’s translations and adaptations of the songs of Jacques Brel were instrumental in bringing the Belgian songwriter to prominence in the English-speaking world. His poetry deals with themes of love, the natural world and spirituality. McKuen sold over 100 million records and 60 million books worldwide, according to the Associated Press….

….In the late 1960s, McKuen began to publish books of poetry, earning a substantial following among young people with collections like Stanyan Street & Other Sorrows (1966), Listen to the Warm (1967), and Lonesome Cities (1968). His Lonesome Cities album of readings won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Recording in 1968.[2] McKuen’s poems were translated into eleven languages and his books sold over 1 million copies in 1968 alone

….McKuen wrote over 1,500 songs, which have accounted for the sale of over 100 million records worldwide according to the Associated Press.[1] His songs have been performed by such diverse artists as Glenn Yarbrough, Barbra Streisand, Perry Como, Petula Clark, Waylon Jennings, The Boston Pops, Chet Baker, Johnny Cash, Pete Fountain, Andy Williams, the Kingston Trio, Percy Faith, the London Philharmonic, Dusty Springfield, Johnny Mathis, Al Hirt, Greta Keller, and Frank Sinatra…. Read More

The second poet, Charles Baudelaire, was a featured article, sometime last week, on the front page of Wikipedia. Since I only know of Baudelaire by name, and from the Bill Morrissey song “The Grave of Baudelaire”. I had to go to Wikipedia to find out more about this poet……..

Charles Pierre Baudelaire ( April 9, 1821 – August 31, 1867) was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe.

His most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the 19th century. Baudelaire’s highly original style of prose-poetry influenced a whole generation of poets including Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé among many others. He is credited with coining the term “modernity” (modernité) to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and the responsibility art has to capture that experience.Read More

I did search for Baudelaire’s poem “The Flowers of Evil” and found the full text of the poem here  You can check out some of Rod McKuen’s unpublished poetry here  Finally,here is a video of Bill Morrissey talk about his visit to the grave of Baudelaire and the song “The Grave of Baudelaire”