♔ a look into the life of Arthur Rimbaud ♔

August 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

Arthur Rimbaud, or Jean-Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud to be exact, often called “The Child of Anger,” was a poet, capricious and peripatetic. A friend of mine once introduced me to him, mostly because of his pulchritude, and not for his prolific works that he managed to write in less than 5 years. I do see him for his stunning appearance, but I commend him for his works as well. Try to repress a hitch in your throat at his portrait below.

Arthur Rimbaud

Let’s research briefly into his life, shall we? Rimbaud was born in Charleville, France on October 20th 1854. His father was named Frederic Rimbaud and his mother, Vitalie Cuff, who were married in the year 1853. His father was very estranged, abandoning his family at his child’s age of six, and leaving him to his overprotective mother. He was a brilliant student in school, very well-mannered and docile. By the age of thirteen, he had already won several prizes for his great writing and was very adept at composing verse in Latin. After his school shut down in 1870 because of the Franco-Prussian war, he sought refuge from his family and ran away from home, living as a vagabond and anticipating for adventure.

Paul Verlaine, a decadent French poet and Symbolist leader, spotted him and was astonished by his talent, so he took him in to live with him and his wife. Rimbaud moved out shortly afterwards due to Verlaine’s ineptibility to conform, but the two strangely became lovers after that. Much to my surprise, anyway. Verlaine was in his mid – 20’s while Rimbaud was a teenager around the age of 17 to 19 when they met. As young as Rimbaud was, he managed to be attracted to such an older (and might I add shuddersome) man. It reminded me of the term “peur delicatus” which is Latin, meaning “exquisite” or “dainty” child-slave chosen by his master for his beauty as a “boy top” also referred to as deliciae (“sweets” or “delights”)

Anyhow, Verlaine had a hostile disposition and his relationship with young Rimbaud was always antagonistic and erratic. Their passionate affair ended immediately on July 12th, 1873 when Verlaine drunkenly shot Rimbaud in the hand, proving my skeptical theory of the man. After that, he continued his writing and often returned home for short periods. Alas, he died on November 10, 1891, at the age of thirty-seven due to a cancer spreading throughout his leg.

Despite his volatile life, Rimbaud managed to write a tandem of poetry, autobiographies, and letters. In 1895, Verlaine published Rimbaud’s complete works, and thus secured his ex-lover’s immortal fame. We are going to read one particular poem today, titled, “Novel.”

 

Novel by Arthur Rimbaud, 18541891

I.

No one’s serious at seventeen.
–On beautiful nights when beer and lemonade
And loud, blinding cafés are the last thing you need
–You stroll beneath green lindens on the promenade.

Lindens smell fine on fine June nights!
Sometimes the air is so sweet that you close your eyes;
The wind brings sounds–the town is near–
And carries scents of vineyards and beer. . .

II.

–Over there, framed by a branch
You can see a little patch of dark blue
Stung by a sinister star that fades
With faint quiverings, so small and white. . .

June nights! Seventeen!–Drink it in.
Sap is champagne, it goes to your head. . .
The mind wanders, you feel a kiss
On your lips, quivering like a living thing. . .

III.

The wild heart Crusoes through a thousand novels
–And when a young girl walks alluringly
Through a streetlamp’s pale light, beneath the ominous shadow
Of her father’s starched collar. . .

Because as she passes by, boot heels tapping,
She turns on a dime, eyes wide,
Finding you too sweet to resist. . .
–And cavatinas die on your lips.

IV.

You’re in love. Off the market till August.
You’re in love.–Your sonnets make Her laugh.
Your friends are gone, you’re bad news.
–Then, one night, your beloved, writes. . .!

That night. . .you return to the blinding cafés;
You order beer or lemonade. . .
–No one’s serious at seventeen
When lindens line the promenade.

29 September 1870

More information and other works can be found here.

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