Charles Baudelaire’s ‚Les Fleurs du Mal‘ is not exactly lacking in programmatic poems, yet no other poem in the collection displays such a high density of Baudelairean motifs as ‚Le Cygne‘. It is therefore not surprising that ‚Le Cygne‘ has become one of Baudelaire‘s most commented poems. Strikingly, the debate about the poem, unlike other debates about poetry, has been downright bitter: The poem has become, especially in the German-speaking world, the battleground of Romance, comparative, historical, sociological and other approaches. Always at the centre of discussion – whether explicitly or implicitly – are the methods of text interpretation. The point of conflict is, in particular, the question of the potential or legitimacy of a historical-political reading of Baudelaire – an argument which, it seems, is always underpinned by other, even more fundamental questions, such as how to conceive the mediation of form and content in literary texts. This paper explores these questions by presenting the various positions; they are discussed, in the horizon of the historical context as well as other poetic and poetological texts by Baudelaire and others, on the basis of a close reading of the poem itself.