Emile Deroy, Portrait de Charles Baudelaire,  1844,Oil on canvasPalace of Versailles

A poet’s correspondence ought to have a special interest, a superior quality—or so we tend to feel. And yet how often does great poetry go with great letter writing? One thinks of Byron, whose letters, for most of us, amount to something more than his poetry. But then Keats’s letters stay with us, lodge in the memory just as much as the best of his poetry. Goethe, I...

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