The opposition of the fire and the dark ashes will be found again associated with a mysterious and sad mother-figure the sorrow of loss often seeps into the substitute figure, as in the Sad King of Rouault, the wounded Fisher King, or the wistful King of playi ng cards. Thus : "Ia Rei ne, Ia Sorciere qui allume sa braise dans le pot de terre, ne voudra j amais nous raconter ce qu'elle sait, et que nous ignorons" "Apres le Deluge".
Mothers are in a maj or sense a source, 3 and we depend on them utterly at first-until they let us down thoroughly and we are spiritually weaned. We believe for a while that they are rooted in deep wisdom, are omnis cient, like Norns, or Sibyls.
Ousted, this belief remains at our core, but often the bitter disappointments and the emotional blockage "noire In the present instance it is womb-li ke, wi th its "Ranes de bois. Rimbaud's blue, like his mother's. It is a symbol of this childish fe n e t r e on voit! The pink and blue is a baby-j oy color par excellence, originally symbolic no doubt of the wa rmly suffused cheeks of maternal love. It is again i n "une fee a passee La nature s'eveille et de rayons s'enivre La terre, demi-nue, heureuse de revivre, A des frissons de j oie aux baisers du solei!
The simple paradigm of sun-father and earth-mother goes back to the Greeks passing perhaps by way of Banville's "La Voie l ac tee" , and Lucreti us ; it w i l l remai n persistent in Rimbaud's most advanced art, such as "Memoi re. La, sur le grand tapis, resplendit quelque chose Ce sont des medaillons argentes, noirs et blancs, How familiar this is : all our adolescen t poems came a cropper i n this way! The medallions engraved with A notre. Je laisserai le vent baigner rna tete nue. Je ne parlerai pas, je ne penserai rien : Mais! In this poem one feels some roundly Rimbaldian qualities ; "roundly" i n the sense that i n his world the beyond and the here and now are fully integrated ; the poetic and the real are blissfully married.
An earthily concrete yet transcendent world, like a fresh evening stroll on a sentier, which is a "male" Way embedded i n mother earth. And like the later title, "Memoire," i t indicates Rimbaud's awareness of the modern psychological phenomenon. The i ncipient Sym bolism, or Impressionism, is evident in the delicacy of 'Therbe menue" and "picote. The wind i s like a caress, a generous maternal attention he lacked : "Je laisserai le vent baigner rna tete n ue.
But, too, he has his moments of male initiative : the wandering along paths far, far away-"loin, bien loi n"-in the wake of his errant and ecstatically free father. At first, Rimbaud as a young schoolboy lacked the courage to break with the stifli ng home ; here his escape is as wildly imaginary as his physical life was restricted.
The dream of a bohemian freedom was later fulfilled and then described in passages of "Ma Boheme," in certai n Illuminations and i n the Saison en Enfer. The underlyi ng tone is a Romantic legato, almost Lamartinian. Soleil et chair Credo in unam Romanticism, i n France as i n Germany, was accompanied by a wave of neo-classicism i n the specific sense of a utopian or Arcadian cult of the ancient Greeks.
The Germans, with Herder, Schiller, Holderlin, and Novalis, spoke of a "third realm" of history which, after a prolonged, dark secon d era-the Western tradition between the Greeks and the modern age-would rejoin the first original "naive" in Schiller's term and "Golden" Age. Hegel's dialectic easily fit here, and indeed the idea is a natural one for all men of late or "sentimental"-schiller culture and applies to all spiral returns to the source, all moods of nco-primitive sophistication, the artistic moods which Empson identifies as "pastoral.
I t is interesting to us largely because, along with the automatic neo classical emulation, the glibly melodious and somewhat rhetorical a nd precious tone, there is much that is si ncerely felt and, more important, there are scattered examples of the personal symbols that will evolve i nto the fully origi nal work, miraculously soon. Sky God marrying Earth Goddess" John W.
Perry, Lord of the Four Quarters. Le Solei! Likewise, the Sun is a male bei ng, aggressively "pouri ng" its love into the earth in a clearly sexual act which fecundates it ; but this being is, passively, a "foyer de tendresse et de vie. Rim baud spontaneously felt the same way, and recognition of this conception will help to explai n some difficult passages in the later poems. This risi ng "sap of the world," welling up and at times spi nning like tourbillons,z is the stuff of joy, recalling a lost paradise which can come back in privileged moments, such as the evolved paean of "Genie" or of "Being beauteous" or the "delirium" of "Alchimie du verbe.
La terre ber ant l'homme, et tout! So n double sein versait dans les immensites Le pur ruissellement de Ia vie infinie. L'Homme suc;:ait, heureux, sa mamelle benie, Comme un petit enfant, jouant sur ses genoux. The pure milk-akin to the "seve" above-wi ll return in fantasies of communion with the long-lost source, for example, in "A pres le deluge" : "Le sang et le lait coulerent. Ia route est amere Depuis que! With its advent, whole men then turned one part of themselves puritanical conscience against the rest.
Christ is thus a "voleur d'energie" "Les Premieres Communions" i n the sense that energy i s wasted in this struggle with self instead of flowing wholeheart edly outward. This i s, of course, a naive view of reality : the kind of spontaneous energy that flows on and out is like an undammed river : i t never "gets off the ground," a s w e say.
But, as usual, there is a germ of truth i n this nineteenth-century idea. The trick is to rediscover wholeheartedness, or authenticity, despite, or through, the sophistications which we cannot shuck-"after such know! Or to create higher syntheses o f civilized-yet-authentic a r t, as Rimbaud will eventually do.
At times there is a more reflective atti tude which turns back not to Arcadia but to the tragic or "existential" mood of the Greeks who accepted life whole or compacted in the sense that they accepted no false solace no " leap," as Camus would say , no belief in an afterlife. Mal larm 6 's "Toast funebre" is a hymn to this redi scovered pagan, stoic, and lucid spirit in Gautier. This same modern corruption, Rimbaud will exclaim after Michelet, has contami nated woman : 6o. La Femme ne sait plus meme etre courtisane! This was a handy alibi for a basic maladj ustment which owed much to his mother's insufficiencies : it is all woman's or society's fault if I can't love ; she stinks.
Thus all the notes of disgust "monceau d'entrailles," "Les Scrurs de charite," "Venus Anadyomene" along with fellow-pity for her fallen state. The second "Lettre du voyant calls for her renaissance to equality in the revolutionary spirit of Michelet. He can only accept woman i n the awe-inspiri ng guise of Venus Cybele-Astarte-Aphrodite , to whom this whole section is addressed : far above him or, conversely, far below him or, as a putative equal, only in the remote ideal future. Never head on.
Thi s is the typical stance of the artist vis-a-vis woman ; but all this is characteristically aggravated. Rim baud will remain true to this disabused view of Western striving i n the Saison e n enfer : "Pretres, professeurs, maitres Les saints! Farce continuelle! But when the Western i d o l s r elig i ou s and other fa lse va l u e s fatigue de bris e r des idoles j II [!
These are obvious extensions of the ideal male and female pair of the title, "Solei! The female anima force of love will become the nouvel am our which ac companies the changes of the raison i n A une raison" and is particularly evident in expressions such as "nos os sont revetus d'un nouveau corps amoureux" " Being beauteous" which clearly prolongs the feminine " Chair" : love as the force of embodiment, female equivalent of the male pensee cf.
Jean versus Herodiade ; Apollo or Hephaestus versus Venus. The total female figure satisfies an immense thirst for love i n the de prived boy ; she is everything his mother was not : - " " " Tu surgiras, j etant sur le vaste Univers L'Amour i nfini dans u n infini sourire! Le Monde vibrera comme une immense lyre Dans le fremissement d'un immense baiser! The total male figure slakes an equally immense thirst to emulate an i deal father or Father in creativity and omniscient thought ; to be a demigod.
The stirring of beauty, impelled by the female force of love, arouses the young divinity in his body, which is like a setting, an altar, for the new light! L'Homme a releve sa tete libre et fiere! Et le rayon soudain de Ia beaute premiere Fait palpiter le dieu dans l 'autel de Ia chai r! Heureux du bien present, pale du m a l souffert, 5 One parent is too monolithic; this situation forces the child tional eggs in one basket, so to speak.
Two parents help him balancing, to play off one against the other ; he begin s to learn trick of duplicity, mobility, healthy "bad faith" wh ich helps surv1ve. The poor schoolboy had swotted too much, crushed and stifled bv maternal and societal constrai nts. So the i n ner source of freedom risi g in adolescence exasperated beyond bearing sprang one April day i nto th i s quelling self-assertion.
L'Homme veut tout sonder,-et savoi r!
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La Pensee, La cavale longtemps, si longtemps oppressee S'elance de son front! The image of the mare i s the spontaneous opposite of the image of restrai nt. The fiery power of the horse-a s i n Plato's myth of the aspiri ng soul Phaedrus -is expressed in headlong flight as opposed to stagnant arrest. In "Le Forgero n" horseback will express the elevation of the human male, domi nating the world of natural animal forces, and retains echoes of virile equestrian powers, accompanying traditional themes of the hunt, the quest, the conquest.
Then follows the eternal questions about our origins, the stars in space, in the Baroque-Romantic-Modern vei n of Montaigne, Pascal, H ugo. Is there a Godhead, after all? I s there any meaning or, as Shakespeare queried and the Baroque era worried, is thought j ust a dream : "La voix de Ia pen see est-elle plus qu'un reve?
As do his contemporaries, Leconte de Lisle, Nietzsche, and Mallarme, Rimbaud raises the question of eternal return : " Sombre-t-il dans! But the questions are not answered, and like Socrates or Montaigne and our modern absurdists, he confesses his ultimate and fatal limitation : "Nous ne pouvons savoi r! Notre pale raison nous cache l'infini! Mallarme will speak similarly of our "petite raison virile [en opposition au ciel ] " ; Montaigne, after Plutarch, ended his "Apologie de Raymond Sebond" with a similar sigh.
There is, alas, a negative force which prevents us from risi ng, a sort of spiritual gravity i ncarnated and represented by the old serpent ; the in sinuating Doubt stimulates thought but also infects the apple of knowl edge : "le Doute nous puni t! Birds are evolved from snakes ; doubt becomes a black bird shades of Poe's raven or Nerval's which swoops down from above like a lightning-stroke revenge for our hubris, the obverse of the angelic dove of belief : "Le doute, morne oiseau, no us fra ppe de son aile" I.
The spirit falls after a sustained soaring of aspiration, as at the close of the " Bateau ivre. But Suzanne Bernard and others have found here n umerous echoes of Musset especially "Rolla" -Rimbaud later will detest him-as well as Chenier, Banville, Hugo. Shakespeare's wistful heroine was a natural magnet for Rimbaud's sympathy : she too was a waif left behind by the male.
The trill of "sombres Marbres" 1. Compare "l'ombre des arbres dans I a riviere embrumee" of Verlaine, and Valery's "tant de marbre tremblant sur tan t d'ombre. Her pale visage cast against the biack waters "fleuve noir" is an ideal image of narcissistic love, self-pity, as in the classic fantasy of the neglected child running away from home and dreaming of his death : "They'll be sorry then. The distant sound of the hunt no doubt evokes a n ancient sacrificial theme as in "Bannieres de mai. Si un rayon me blesse Je succomberai sur Ia mousse.
Sebastian in Debussy's score. One also senses a reminiscence of "La Belle au bois dormant," the creature born of adolescent yearning who is distilled from the woods themselves, sums them up, and makes them available for human caress, like the " Baiser d'or du Bois" of "Tete de faune. Rimbaud's identification here-like Valery's with the Young Fate awaiting her swan-god-is partly through his anima with the passive beauty waiting to be released by the divi nely virile intervention of a male spirit, as in "Les Scrurs de charite" or "Genie" ; partly through his anim us he aspires to fulfill that role of Awakener.
Also "Les Etrennes des orphelins. A mythic depth is achieved, as i n temporal dream-distortions similar to "! The tone is softly melodious i n the Romantic and Parnassian rnanner e. Elle eveille parfois, dans un aune qui dort, Quelque nid, d'ou s'echappe un petit frisson d'aile Rimbaud identified very readi ly with birds, as we saw above, p.
The sympathy Rimbaud felt with nature is furthered by this i mage and in a related way by the feeling of a responsive shivering in the trees as she passes : "Les saules frissonnants pleurent sur son epaule. Ia poudre des saules qu'une aile secoue! The Pythagorean idea of star-music is found again in "Ma Boheme. II Libene This is somewhat abstract and contrasts j arringly with the preceding lyricism.
It may have some overtones of political liberty, but mainly i t. The urge which sent this dreami ng girl-chi ld down a dark river was the same one which released the drunken boat down a nocturnal river to the open sea in "Le Bateau ivre. The voices i n the wi nd speak of "apre liberte. C'est qu'un matin d'avril, un beau cavalier pale, Un pauvre fou, s'assit muet a tes genoux!
The mad young girl "o pauvre Folie! This drama of anim usj anima is made explicit in the li nes below : Tu te fondais a lui comme une neige au feu ; Tes grandes visions etranglaient ta parole -Et l'infini terrible effara ton ceil bleu! There is a male, godlike principle, here i n the form of i ntransigent vision and duty, which i n tervenes violently i n the gentle anima, the i nstinctive life, and upsets it, makes it difficult for the emotions to be controlled for articulation.
But the pri nciple is irresistible and bri ngs a grateful flush of the whole passive soul which believes, so strongly that it flings i tself head long to possible perdition. Keats heard a similar voice in nature, a similar wild i n j u nction, in "Sleep and Poetry," which likewise drove him to near madness. That "blue eye" echoes the color of Rimbaud's eyes. The i n nocent victim of this descendi ng fateful thrust of spiritual fire like Leonardo's vulture or St. Paul's rays of light , he is as submissive as his mother will be toward the departing male, in "Memoire," or as he himself will be toward the "Genie" in the poem of that name.
Compare "un rayon me biesse" "Bannieres de mai " , or "j e m'offrais au solei! His mother's eyes, too, were blue. Bal des Pendus This poem mai nly illustrates Rimbaud's vi rtuosity and his savoring of me diev al crispness and frankness and the fat grief of Vi lion whom he Thus, as i n Vi lion's " Ballade des pend us," the j oy here is largely necrophilic and adolescent-spooky or Hallowe'eny, i n a mode which might be called the "medieval agony. Both modes embody a j agged union of o pposites, as in grotesque face-making which is both funny and pathetic.
The gawky sensitive adolescent in France often expresses his strong need for both pleasure and pai n in this i ntensely ambivalent way. Among the better known literary practitioners of this vein are Lautreamont, Corbiere, La forgue, and Jarry. The total effect of the formula is clearly evident i n abrupt couplings such a s "hi deux amour" I. Medieval art-particularly Romanesque-was haunted by this effect i n fa ade statuary, gargoyles, a n d grotesque literary imagery. Rabelais's Panurge is a later verbal version of troubled adolescent canular : we think particularly of the sexual prank he plays against some haughty ladies.
The u nderlyi ng emotion is explosive, but tamed-horizontalized-by geometry, ti nkering science including the elaborate techniques of the prank and humor. The explosions are rhythmically released as i n a n internal com bustion engine. The effects are precisely a series of staccato noises, crisp sounds i n c, q, t, d. Adolescents or children see more spooks than anyone because they need to : horror movies are mostly made for teenagers. So much instinctive life is buried or stifled by the bourgeois regime of a Rimbaud that it pops way up into the air, doing usually-forbidden things.
If sex is condemned as horrible, it will s p ring u p mixed with horror "J'ai horreur de a! In place of the alternations of exertion and joy in a sex act, one has the i ntermittances of disembodied pleasure and pain, free-floating joy and horror, mingled in the sensational thrill of fasci nation.
This disembodied aspect combi ned with the simple, childish effects of color and shape bright reds and oranges versus blacks, neat patterns of this versus that creates a Hallowe'eny impression. The crisp imagery is like that of a decorative cut -out : starkly contrasted pantomimic or Chinese-shadow effects of geometric gibbet and dangling creatures against the sky : "grima ant sur le ciel.
Les loups vont repondant des forets violettes The wolves and forests are out of Vi lion's "Testament" : "Et faim [ fait] saillir le loup du bois," but the "foret violette" is an association of vaguer ancestry. Rimbaud favors the pairing : the plunge i nto the woods i s re freshing; moist violets there are like a blue air-and-water bath. Compare Mallarme's : "abreuve-toi d'azur" letter to Cazalis. Here the color alone gives merely a hint of that later-developed Aavor, which we wi ll discuss i n "Comedic de Ia soif. The wolves and violets reappear, separated, in "Le Loup criait.
I n "Mauvais sang," the wolf is a cowardly rapacious beast associated with Rimbaud's Gallic ancestors. Le Chatiment de Tartufe This is a poem of childish revolt against constraint ; specifically, religious constrai nt. Rimbaud debunks the zealot in the wake of Moliere, stripping his meta physicality to reveal the ugly underside : "-Peuh! Tartufe eta it nu. I t is a j uvenile device, because it is, characteri stically, perfectionistic and puritanical children who regard the revelation of a human underside as a demonstration of defeat. But the revolt in the name of purity is not always meani ngless.
There can be a li ngeri ng "sickness unto death" Kierkegaard i n hypocrisy, bourgeois or religious, carried beyond a certai n point, and the symptoms are ap propriately namby-pambi ness, sallow sickliness, expressed here by the color yellow, by Tartuffe's mealy-mouthed sweetness, his pallor, the clammy moistness of his skin, the covertness of his gloves, the stirring embers of u navowed love concealed under a black robe.
Under the guise of an account of a historical event-when Louis XVI, confronted by a b utcher in a revolutionary crowd, donned a bonnet rouge Rimbaud co nv ert s the butcher to a blacksmith -Rimbaud is striking obliquely at Hugo's favorite butt, Napoleon I l l.
The poem suffers from its public Rimbaud's need to worship a father-figure i nflates him to gigantic, legendary size-a Paul Bunyan, a Gargantua-and he j oins with some other ouvriers, as in. I I n 'aimait pas Dieu ; mais les hommes, qu'au soir fauve, Noirs, en blouse, il voyait rentrer dans le faubourg See also " Bonne pensee du matin.
They are as stron g as bulls, work with awe-i nspiring fire, make an impressive clatter ; "God is a noise i n the street," says Joyce. Longfellow's smi th was a s solid and "rooted" as the chestnut tree he forged under. Alain-Fournier's village youth stood entranced a t the door of the local smithy, gingerly edging up to the powers of virility and adult vocation riant I Comme u n clairon d'airain The "clair-" of "clairon" is the brightness of male authenticity as i n the dazzling blast of a Last Judgment com p are Hugo's "Dieu" , the "su p reme Clairon plein des strideurs etranges I Silences traverses des mondes et des Anges" of "Voyelles," or " le chant clair" of "Genie" ; "trom p ettes Compare the later " Ecoutant le devoir comme un clairon qui sonne" of line On nous faisait flamber nos taudis dans Ia nuit ; Nos petits y faisaient u n gateau fort bien cuit.
The vehement Protestant revolt of d'aubigne's "Tragiques" led to com parably extreme or baroque imagery ; fire in night, stingi ng accusations of child-murder couched in rhymed verse. Or, n 'est-ce pas j oyeux de voir, au mois de j uin, Dans les granges entrer des voitures de foin E normes? Sidi n g with spontaneous nature, as against stale forms of Church and bourgeois society, the peasant that was i n Rimbaud's immediate ancestry here revels in the simple, healthy, Keatsean sensuality of consumption of scene by ogling eyes, hay by barn.
More, there is a "happy family" j oint j oy of consuming and bei n g consumed, male and female as i n "L'Eternite. De sentir l'odeur de ce qui pousse, Des vergers quand i1 pleut un peu, de! De voir des bles, des bles, des epi s plei ns de grain, De penser que cela prepare bien du pai n? This welling sap of healthy, fertile nature rises i n the boy at rare moments.
The wheat is like palpable stored sunshine compare the sun trapped in the straw of "Les Assi s" , the amassed force of which, like "gold"-charged blood in the body, will plump up the blond loaf even more palpably, so that, like a bodily host, it can be consumed. The participation i s, in fact, double : identi fication with the consumed bread, and consumption of it. Thus the "lourd pai n blond" goes into the oven, in "Les Effares," like a male andjor, as Hackett suggests, a child's body back into a life-giving womb. Not that all of this is explicit i n the li nes quoted. But it usefully illustrates some of the valences of these images which will be exploited later lis ont rempli ton nid de J'odeur de nos filles The extremely low and natural animal realism here is spontaneously sought in a downward movement that digs beneath the stale bourgeois social forms to undermine them.
This i s "grassroots" radicalism radix : root , i n the pattern of humanistic naturalism. Perhaps we ought not to emphasize the peasant in Rimbaud. His home atmosphere was petit bourgeois, and he had deliberately to rediscover the rustic i n him, as Rousseau, Tolstoy, and most of us do. Nous nous sentions Hommes! The fatherless boy has difficulty i n making it to male maturity whence the bitter irony, "Quels hommes murs!
When belatedly or in Rashes he does make it, the triumph i s quelling. Thus he sides with the long-downtrodden, in class terms, and revels in thei r moment of domi nation. Similarly, in the Saison en Enfer, he will side with the "enfants de Cham. This w as true as well of the lonely "androgy nous angel" that was the a dole scen t Rim baud. Tas sombre de haillons saignant de bonnets rouges This is the black-red pairi ng we first witnessed in "Les Etrennes des orphelins.
Nous sommes Ouvriers, Sire! Nous sommes Pour les grands temps nouveaux ou! Plus de mal.. Here the theme of the quasi-deified, Promethean, fire-stealing workman as i n "Les Poetes de sept ans" or "Bonne pensee du matin" j oins with the hunt-theme, equally associated with mature virility. Thus, in spite of the modernity and socialistic secularism of Rimbaud's political program, a magic note is introduced, as i n the Saison en Enfer "Je ferai de!
But this easily happened to other Utopians, 1 I n Le G rand Meaulnes, the worsh iped older boy-meaulnes-is a hunter ; the men in the blacksmith shop are another expression of this prestigious male quality. Faulkner's "The Bear" is a well-known comparable case : the boy, Ike MacCaslin, finds a legend ary father-figure in t he Indian guide Sam Fathers as he is initiated into m anhood through the hunt. Nietzsche convi nci ngly proclaimed in the Genealogy of Morals that the socialist tradition concealed a religious zeal, was the Hebrew-Christian transcendental tradition in new guise.
And his own stubborn, rational lucidity ended in fiery gushes of poetry and madness. Jung is right : the fountai n of life at our core is religious and we cannot quell it for long. Morts de Quatre-vingt-douze An unimportant poem, it heavily satirizes a j ournalist who had the gall to evoke the memory of the revolutionary soldiers of and Valmy, etc. There i s only one memorable image : 0 Soldats que Ia Mort a semes, noble Amante, Pour les regenerer, dans tous les vieux sillons ; The concep tion of death or war as a whore i s ancient : she takes you back i nto her sterile womb.
But here she has the fertile, regenerating qualities of a Lover. Also remembered are the sillons of "La Marseillaise. A la musique Verlaine's Poemes saturniens had aroused Rimbaud's enthusiasm, ac cordi ng to lzambard. For Verlaine the French neo classic garden a Ia W atteau was "correct, ridicule et charmant" ; here is a "Sq uare ou tout est correct, les arbres et les fleurs. The humor of both poets adds to the. The i nitial discouragement caused by the p rovincial setting-the oompahs of the military band, the strutting of the petty local notables only superficially represses the true ardor here, the inner fire of the stroll ing adolescent Rimbaud.
The bitter-sweetness wells up so, it spirals retro actively even to the banal scene which may end by charming some of us, like Vui llard or even Pop Art. The banality is expiated, as in Joyce's Gerty MacDowell episode or Brecht-Weill's Threepenny Opera, by the spoof, and the sentimentality thus gets by our defenses.
It is like much of Lafargue in this respect, for example the crisply ironic c-sound plus sentimental : "Quand l'orchestre attaqua sa derniere polka" or "Bref, j 'allais me donner d'un 'Je vous aime' " "Dimanches". At least the poem is mostly in this covert vein. In the end there is the pathetically honest : " Et j e sens les baisers qui me viennent aux levres And altogether I find here a sincere though unfulfilled longing. Des rentiers a lorgnons soulignent tous les couacs Wha t a wicked eye Rimbaud has, like Proust in a similar scene at the musicale of Madame de Saint-Euverte!
The devastating item, that of provincial would-be-snobs showi ng they are "with" pompously vulgar military music! The "couacs" break "henormously" through this subtlety, like low-down " lazzi"-its sound and mimetic substantial quality are suitably imperti nent, refreshing. The paradi ng fat wives, with their flounces as big as ad-posters, as "cornacs" elephant drivers is another low blow.
Puis prisent en argent, et p rennent : "En somme! Deborde-vous savez, c'est de Ia contrabande ; The pithy quotes "En somme" and "vous savez c'est de Ia contrebande" are also substantial, take us to the naked texture of reality u nder this art, like a bared canvas amidst paint, with refreshingly real effect. Le long des gazons verts ricanent les voyous ; Et, rendus amoureux par le chant des trombones, Tres nalfs, et fumant des roses, les pioupious Caressen t les bebes pour enj oler les boo nes R1mbaud plays with the "suis" it means "follow" but momentarily looks like its French homonym for "am" :2 in a sense he is the girls, identifies with them, as well as follows them, j ust as, below, he is their divine backs, as well as follows them.
Rimbaud's lucidity is astonishi ng, as usual. The girls use the same device "riant" to deal with dangerously deep emotions as Rimbaud does in the poem as a whole. But on this terrain they are far more courageous, as women almost always are, than the young male, and he fearfully glimpses the depth of their intent.
They are tough, alertes, and mean busi ness or "choses i ndiscretes," and he quails. Thus the adolescent band in Le Grand Meaulnes trai led Gi lberte Poquelin with bravado cock calls, but they dared not approach too closely, and ended in a strangely embarrassed silence, when they gazed suddenly i nto the depth of nature's intent i n her hip-motion.
Rimbaud's courage will take him only as far as an imagined undressi ng, an inner possession, of their lissom bodies. With sharp female realism and some cruelty, they are quick to sense their advantage on this terrain and get even wi th would-be-domi neeri ng males. They are aware of the shyness or cowardice and find him "drole" and, nudging each other, "se parlent tout bas.
He had too much to contend with in the bottom of his psyche. The belles fievres were there and were genui ne, I believe. But the in security was too great to overcome. I n the form of his family, people had betrayed him too much for him to have any confidence i n this realm. Nature seemed more reliable, it had not dealt him any major blows as yet And he had not yet seen the cancerous cruelties the narcissistic spirit of art could dish out-not before the Saison en Enfer when he discovered the "bitter" qualities of the Muse.
Le transparen t glacier" "Le Vie rge, le vivace et le bel aujourd'hui" : the "nous" momentarily wav e rs between a direct object and a dative of interest. First, because love Eros is dialectically entangled with its opposite, death Thanatos , or general psychic negation i ncluding all the sub-forms : fear, hate, pain, disgust. But, normally, the negation is overcome i n a stubbornly persistent commitment to the opposite sex-at least for a while, through an affair and various "acts" of love-either by dialectically turning it into its opposite or by dissociating the positive phase from the dialectic cycle and i nvesting i t alone in the relationship the negative phase goi ng into work, private sufferi ng, or strife with others, etc.
In Rimbaud's case he had too much hatred for his mother to allow for this, or at least it made the situation highly problematical. His mother had, he felt, failed as a woman, failed to hold on to the affections of the father, and so the family was ruined and the boy's i n ner life was unbalanced. Besides, his mother was harshly dutiful and cold, making it difficult to love her. But the boy needed a woman's tender love all the more ; under the rough exterior, the Forgeron said : "Nous voulions etre doux!
It is all very familiar ; the j uvenile psyche flinging excrement is trying homeopathically to blot out its own terror of "love's bitter mystery," playing o n the fact that "love has pitched its mansion in the place of excrement," in a way that is absolutely un convincing to it and to us who know that it is precisely because of the dirty dangerous aspect of love that the baptismal plunge i nto its dark waters leads to a birth of holy j oy in Apuleius' The Golden Ass, Eros came to Psyche as a monster ; Beauty learned to overcome her disgust, whereupon the Beast became a Pri nce.
But only the i nitiated know this and learn to have faith in the process, learn to "swim" ; Rimbaud-from all we know of him-had yet to plunge i n. Comme d'un cercueil vert en fer blanc, There is an obvious association between the cercueil and the idea of 1 These two rhythms of love-hate pleasure-pain are usually combined in vary ing doses. The verdigris quality of the ti n is associated with this decay, rather than with nature, pace Hackett.
Les reins portent deux mots graves : Clara Venus Gengoux has demonstrated that Rimbaud here was probably copying a poem by Glatigny depicti ng a prostitute with a pair of names tattooed on her arm. But the idea of " Clara Venus" "bright, or renowned, Venus" i nscribed on or above the behind is absurd and pathetically j uvenile, like scrawling a moustache on a poster picture of a woman. The Venus Kalli pygia seems to be confusedly i nvolved in the image of Venus Anadyomene. Belle hideusement d'un ulcere a! A fieur du mal? Suzanne Bernard rightly distinguishes between the spirituality of such coupli ngs i n Baudelaire versus the snickering realism here.
But the bitterness of misogyny is at least si ncere i n Rimbaud and leads to further developments in the Saison en Enfer. Premiere Soiree I nspired by music hall librettists like the eighteenth-century Favart, whom he is known to have admired, Rimbaud wrote here in a light chanson vein, with a Boucher prettiness, frivolity, and mild indecency. There are delicate poi ntillist touches which bring the picture closer to the Impressionists than to Boucher, and some realistic details which add a note of drily mocking modernity.
The girl, despite her half-naked charms, i s almost drowned by the sur roundi ng nature, revealing Rimbaud's truer tastes ; we think of Proust's preference for Albertine asleep as an objective, "vegetable" part of the worl d. They seem to have an independent, impersonal existence. Compare Baudelaire's rhapsody over the self-sufficient parts of Jeanne "ces grappes de rna vigne," etc.
As much as Vermeer or the Impressionists, Rimbaud was enamored of light, which is the rock-bottom substance to get at for authenticity akin to Eros itself. A description of i ts varied tones and nuances in his work would make a little study in itself. I 3 -Je baisai ses fines chevilles. Elle eut un doux rire brutal Qui s'egrenait en claires trilles, Un j oli rire de crista!.
As with the "alertes fillettes" of "A Ia musique," Rimbaud learned young that women are the true realists, sometimes brutally so. As Camus says i n The Rebel, the ni neteenth-century notion that women are sentimental, i dealistic, is mystification. The realism passes i nto laughter as light crystalli ne "clair," "crista! I "V eux-tu fini r! Rimbaud obviously enjoys the irony of this new anti romanticism, but there i s a hint of Laforguian bitterness too that women should be so plates. Compare the end of "Les Reparties de Nina," where all the girl is thinking of is getting back to her desk job.
A complex dialectic i s at work here : the girl leads the boy on by coquet tish alternation of restraints the punishing laugh and permissiveness the first gesture is allowed, moreover the laugh only feigns to punish. Rimbaud senses she means business. He i s no doubt uneasy underneath the pretense of man-of-the-world i nsouciance and the false implication of ar.
Thus upon reflection one i s unconvi nced by the follow-up, the kiss on the eyes and the kiss on the breast and the satisfaction that her resultant laugh augured well for a consummation : "un bon rire qui votilait bien One doubts he ever did consummate i n this usual way, though i t i s interesti ng enough that he dreamed of it, i ndicating that the heterosexual o n ly needed to be brought out. Les Reparties de Nina qui retient Nina variant title: Ce This remarkable early poem is i n the lineage of poetic realism starti ng approximately from Sainte-Beuve's Rayons jaunes or the Sylvie of Nerval, with echoes of French genre painting a Ia Chardin or Greuze.
That is to say, he seeks the direct substance of life functions by using simple, direct, almost i nvisible words like bon Hemingway's "good". Thus "nous irions" 1. Or apposi te images are evoked to create a general tone of transparency, especially air, as in "Ayant de! Or qualities which seem to speak directly to our senses are i nvoked : "vin de j our" I. A corollary quality i s the wholeness of this art : the phenomenological world is rendered enti re, not separated into abstract mind and concrete nature or fragmented through conventional social formulas of human attitudinizi ng, oughts i nstead of is-es.
The effect is of Nietzschean or Camusian lucidity, freshness, and very often of roundedness. Thus the interpenetration or one-r. The "bon matin" has this double roundedness : the vau t of the spacious d ay, the 0 and b i n bon, as in "Les bons vergers a l he r be bleue, I Aux pom miers tors" I ; "ce bleu qui cerne I ton grand rei! Heavier examples are "lc pot de biere I Cercle de plomb" , or "Ia face ronde 1 Du cher petit" I which i s a fine illustration of the Flemish quality of accepted wholeness of flesh and spirit together, as in Breughel, Rubens, or Verhaeren's Flamandes ; and this worldly quality extends somewhat to Char din and Greuze and N erval.
Various of the poems inspired by the trip to Belgia n Flanders bring this happy globular ity : the "chope immense" of "Au Cabaret-Vert" and the "tetons enormes" of the hefty girl who serves it. The letter b offers a similar bubbly or buoyant quality, as Mallarme had observed i n Les Mots anglais com p are Keats' " Beaded bubbles winking at the brim" where the b's are singularly graphic.
This is evident i n "Du bon matin bleu, qui vous baigne" 1. A simple example is the scene of the stable I , with its quasi-divine light from above, " Bianchissant sous quelque lu miere" but "pleine I De fumiers chauds. It is as if an optician suddenly put i nto his refractor a lens so much more encompassing and still so limpid as well as precisely focussed i t made us gasp. Thus the first strophe features the contact of the lover with his lass ; he drinks in with her presence the morning air in which she bathes, the "vin de j our. Later, "nos grands bois sentiraient Ia seve" I.
Through universal analogy, the hierarchy of bei ng, the world's body and the human woman's body overlap : in the intoxicated eyes of poetry, vegetation and flesh are one. This communion was prominent in "Solei! Semant partout, Comme une mousse de champagne, Ton rire fou : Mallarme also thought of laughter as champagne Ph iade, p Riant a moi, brutal d'ivresse, Qui te prendrais This, though probably a fantasy like the other poems about Rimbaud's love-affairs-was he really a "brutal" conqueror of women?
Riant au vent vif qui te baise Comme un valeur,. I n certain primitive cultures, the wind is believed to fecundate women Lents, nous gagnerions la ravine, Puis les grands bois! To sink into the ravine, or the deep woods, with Magna Mater. IS to commune intimately 4 1. Puis, comme une petite morte, Echo of "Ia petite mort," sexual consummation.
Ivre du sang Qui coule, bleu, sous ta peau blanche The almost cannibalistic desire to commune with the woman through oral consumption is universal. Babies like to bite their nursing mothers! Milk and blood thus overlap. And they are often associated, as in Chretien's "Perceval" or MallarmC's " Herodiade," with the white and red cheeks of a woman. In the promiscuous infantile urges of "Apres le deluge," "Le sang et le lait coulerent.
Le soir? The evening descending adds a graver note, elegiac, to the precedi ng sweetness, speaks gently of death, Homecoming i n the total sense which always lies behind the impulse of love. Robert Frost spoke of the twin motives of his poetry as love-sickness and home-sickness. The theme of le sentier leading to the peaceful village, redolent of Home i n everyone's dreams-and the corollary family interior-now dominates the poem.
Of course, given Rimbaud's family background, the Home here is a wishful fantasy, like Rousseau's utopian village, which j oins, in an ideal union, human organization houses and countryside : man and his source. John and Herodiade, Mallarme speaks of "le mets delicieux qu'on goute l'un a!
ETYMOLOGICAL DICTIONARY OF THE FRENCH LANGUAGE
Nous regagnons le village This section of "Les Reparties de Nina," like Nerval's Sylvie, is full of family-warmth, humble, almost popular poetic realism in the Chardin manner. The family, too, is a substitute. Not actual parents, or even middle-aged people who could be, but "grand-parents" who are thus re moved from the generation struggle. Simi larly in Le Grand Meaulnes, at the Strange Festival there were only elderly people or children "qui seraient capables de vous pardonner.
Et a sentira le laitage Dans! It includes not only the air and light and all the other elements, the trees and grasses, but also the sap and the "animate essences" which are the human sap, milk and blood ; even excrement can participate in the warmth of communion as Freud has told us it can for infants as a humble "animate essence. Thus the baby has a "museau" and is promiscuously caressed by the dog's fraternal "mufle" ; the grandfather's "effroyables Iippes" are similarly animal in an affectionate sense.
And ch ildren the eq uivalent here are the orphans of "Les Effares" or the chi ldren next door in "Les Pd:tes de sept ans". The workman is another such "removed" idealized fantasy, not a typical bourgeois adult removed side ways, so to speak, instead of up like the old people or down like the children. The light from above in "Blanchis sant sous quelque lumiere," recalli ng the light that is suspended from the roof in "Les Poetes de sept ans," is like an intervention of the divi ne amid the everyday. Rimbaud's world vibrates at its core from the tensions set up between these vitally opposed yet conjoined reals-like Baudelaire's "ciel ou enfer, qu'importe" "Hymne a Ia Beaute''.
The followi ng strophes are i n fine genre style and very visual particu larly the profile of the old lady agai nst the fire. We think naturally of the Flemish and French genre pai nters. And Rimbaud himself says "Que de choses verrons-nous! Les fesses luisantes et grasses D'un gros enfant Qui fourre, a genoux, dans les tasses, Son museau blanc Prole par un mufle qui gronde D'un ton gentil, Et pourleche Ia face ronde Du cher petit Tu viendras, tu viendras, j e t'aime!
Ce sera beau. Tu viendras, n'est-ce pas, et meme I think of the Green Inn which symbolizes for Rimbaud as for Baudelai re the pathetic longi ng for the happy home he never had, a resting place, "! I remember particularly Richard Wi lbur's : I thought i f I should begin To enter entirely that door, Saying, "I am a son of this house, My birth and my love are here," I might never come forth any more : Qui rit!
The end is tricky, a bitterly wry let-down ; it happens often that closes are defeated in Rimbaud notably in "Le Bateau ivre" ; he tried too hard to soar and, Icarus, fell again and again.
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I t barely skirts sentimentality, escaping it through remarkably 1 H e h imself thought so ; he exempted it along with "Sensation" from posed destruction of h is first twenty-two poems, the "recueil Demeny. The deprived child finds delight i n a complex fantasy. This is centered around the adult, courageous and powerful, almost godlike, worker, the Boulanger, who is in touch-by his earthy laboring role and his graceful skill and spontaneity-with the source of life ; he is a creator, not only of bread but the life it nourishes, and of j oy.
As a creator-provider he is gentle as well as strong, a mixture of maternal and paternal qualities which will be most explicitly drawn i n the ideal father figure of "Genie" : 3 "Ia force et! But the capable arms which authoritatively a nd gently fashion the loaf, rather like a mother swaddling a chi ld, also thrust it i nto a recipient oven, in a male act, "le fort bras blanc Dans un trou clair. The Baker is an ideal comforter, combi ned with something of a ritualist, a n earthy priest, celebrating the fundamental processes of life. The j oy of communion is primarily with the bread, like a host.
The child dreams of consubstantiality, an identity which would raise him to an ideal or even divine child-status ; this is echoed in the "pauvres Jesus" below. And it is on l y one level a pu re happy Being of the poem's total Eros. The warmth of the contact occurs not only with the bread but also between the emotionally hu n g r y and cold children and the good man 6 a nd h i s generous stove the maternal "trou clai r " ; compare "Le Buffet".
A nother obvious level of union i s of food and physically hungry stomachs, overlappi ng with the earli er-suggested "sexual" union of bread and oven we are usi ng "sexual" to stand for the more total psychological phenome non such as Sartre s p e a ks of in his passage on "the hole" in L'Etre et le Neant. Then there i s the corollary dy namic of thei r cold bodies outside yearning for contact with th e warmth i nside-the "trou clair" of the stove is extended to the "trou chaud [ qui ] souffle!
The pathos, or i nitial alienation, u nderlying the ideal of union runs fluidly from level to level. Thus the "misere"!. The physical dark ness "noirs" of the children and the cold of the snow certainly u nderline their emotional deprivation, like the fireless hearth of "Les E trennes des orphelins. Noirs dans Ia neige et dans Ia brume, It is mid night accordi ng to a variant from line r 6 : "Et quand pendant que minuit sonne," hence dark. Their ragged garments also probably make a di ngy splash against the snow, si nce, being poor, they and their clothes are no doubt dirty.
But the chief effect is the spiritual one : sombre misery, outside in the cold and fog. Au grand soupirail qui s'allume The a i r-vent leads to an underground room, all the mysteriously snugger and more womb-like for that, akin to Hobbit-dwellings or similar habita tions in animal-stories for chi ldren.
Note the pleasant roundness and the o. The "misere! Compare the repeated "pitie! There is a resonance between the overtone of boule and the heavy lourd , round solidity of the bread. The round o's and the pendulous u's of "Boulanger" and "lourd" are instrumental i n this effect, to which the b's and p also contribute ; compare Keats' "swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells" "To Autumn". We recall the armoire of "Les E trennes des orphelins" ; here i s a similar womb-like or cornucopia source of nourishment and spiritual strength which we will find again in the later poem, "Le Buffet.
Au souffle du soupirail rouge Chaud comme un sein. The whole warm room "ce trou chaud," I. Suzanne Bernard is, we think, wrong to slight Hackett's penetrating and thoroughly convi nci ng analysis Quand pour quelque medianoche, Since Rimbaud conceived the scene as occurring at midnight, he thinks of the bread as bei ng prepared for a "midnight snack" of the privileged, nocturnal cousins to the decadent rich who are contrasted with the ideal ized morning workers of "Bonne pensee du matin.
Fa onne comme une brioche The variant "Faconne, petillant et j aune" i ndicates how much Rimbaud enjoyed the idea of this wholesome loaf, healthy and solid as he would be by consuming it : well-m olded by its maker. Collant leurs petits museaux roses Au treillage, grognant des choses Entre les trous, Tout betes, The "museaux," "grognant," "betes" all exhale an animal tone : Rimbaud looks upon the worker-children in the somewhat condescending, pitying way one looks upon humble and victimized animals.
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And all dribble their stupid, pleading faith, Their non-stop supplication to Jesus Up on high, stained yellow by the glass, dreaming, Far from skeletal sinners, pot-bellied rogues, Far from the smell of meat and mouldy cloths, The dark, ugly grovellings of this puppet-show; ——And the litany blooms with choice phrases, Insistent mysticities; Then, from the nave where sunlight expires, silly Silks, green smiles, the Ladies from the smart part Of town——Jesus wept!
In this, our tapioca age When plants do work, The Lily will drink blue distaste From your religious bits of Prose! Des lys! None to be seen! Respected Sir, always when you take a bath Your Shirt of the yellow armpits Swells up in the morning air Over revolting forget-me-nots. And wild woodland violets, The sugar-spit of black larva-nymphs!
Vieilles verdures, vieux galons! Fleurs fantasques des vieux Salons! Old greenery, old bits of rag! Vegetable nibbles! Vaut-elle un seul pleur de chandelle? A single tear dripping from a candle? Ton quatrain plonge aux bois sanglants Et revient proposer aux Hommes Divers sujets de sucres blancs, De pectoraires et de gommes! Sachons par Toi si les blondeurs Des Pics neigeux, vers les Tropiques, Sont ou des insectes pondeurs Ou des lichens microscopiques!
Trouve des Fleurs qui soient des chaises! Tell us if the blondnesses Of snowy peaks near Tropics Are insects laying eggs, Or microscopic lichens! Find cotton-down Thistles, Ropes that ten hot-eye Donkeys try to slip! Your rhyme will spurt up, pink or white, Like a whoosh of sodium, Or a spread of oozing rubber. And telegraph-poles, like singing Steel lyres, will grace Your splendid shoulder-blades!
Alcide Bava. La pierre sent toujours la terre maternelle. The stone smells always of mother earth. Every hundred years, these barns are spruced up With a mix of blue water and sour milk. Les parents semblent de doux portiers. The Priest gets gratis his arbour-shaded roof, So he can let all these faces burn in the sun. The girls always go to church, happy to hear Themselves called sluts after Mass or Evensong By boys who think they have style. Her parents might be quiet janitors. Among Latin endings Green-mottled skies bathe crimson Brows.
Stained with pure blood from heavenly breasts, Great snowy whiteness drapes the suns! Then, the poverty of images, their patina Of boredom, awful pictures, old woodcuts. Blood poured From her nose; and, feeling chaste and full of feebleness, And to savour in God her love returning, She hungered for night, when the heart rises And falls, watched by gentle, guessed-at skies, For night, impalpable Virgin Mother, bathing every Young emotion in grey silences; She thirsted for strong night when the bleeding heart Oozes mute rebellion, seen by none.
White air streamed through perforated roof; Some wild purple-black vine straggled Through cracks in a nearby courtyard wall. The skylight threw a heart-shaped brightness On the yard, where low skies plastered purple gold On windows; paving stones reeked of laundry-water, Spreading sulphur over dark, dream-crowded walls. Tu baisais mes cheveux profonds comme les laines Et je me laissais faire I want to be laid out Among the dead refreshed by waters of night.
You kissed my hair as thick as wool, And I let you Whooping redskins took my men as targets And nailed them nude to technicolour posts. The storm blessed my maritime wakefulness. For whole months on end I followed the swell Charging the reefs like hysterical beasts, Not thinking that luminous Maryfeet Could force a muzzle onto breathy seas. I saw great swamps seethe like nets laid in reeds Where a whole Leviathan lay rotting, Collapse of water in the midst of calm And distances tumbling into nothing. Hideous wreckages down in brown depths Where enormous insect-tormented snakes Crash from twisted trees, reeking with blackness.
Do you sleep banished in the pit of night, You myriad golden birds, the Strength to come? Dawn breaks my heart. All moons are atrocious, all suns bitter. Acrid love has pumped me with drugged torpor. Let my keel burst, let me go to the sea! Stained brown with blood, like old wine, His mouth cracks with laughter under trees.
Armand Silvestre. Scornful of hard work, of famines! Dawn squirts you full of its detergent love! A sweetness of skies butters your stamens! Armand Silvestre A. Noses of Theban ascetics, And canons of the Holy Grail In which white night congealed And the old tomb-gloom plainsong. Paul Verlaine. Paul Verlaine A.
Louis-Xavier de Ricard. Louis-Xavier de Ricard A. Veuillot, Tropmann, Augier! Cirages onctueux! Pains vieux, spiritueux! Femme Tombe: Lombe Saigne: ——Clame! Oily waxes! Old bread, spirits! Girl Hurled, Much Blood. Boo Hoo! State of Siege? The poor conductor, in his tin shelter, Warming a huge chilblain inside his glove, Goes down the Left Bank with his heavy omnibus, Keeping his moneybag clear of his swollen groin. Root ripped from some ancient meadow, Its mane of hair lies drying; its handle has bleached Like island timber left out in too much sun. The braided strands seem a frozen plait.
Et qui a fait tourner mal notre bile! Louis Ratisbonne. Poems from Album Zutique Exiles That often we were interested, dear Conneau! In little Ramponneau more than the triumphant uncle! All decent instincts come from the powerless People! Which, alas, made our anger turn sour! Up the road, houses are lined, Their windows hung with angel-blinds.
Louis Ratisbonne A. Renversons la douleur de nos lacrymatoires. The sceptre, scarcely venerated, Is just a great Calvary cross placed On the volcano of nations! Oh, honour went streaming down your male moustache. Belmontet, Parnassian archetype Remembrances of Senility Forgive me, father!
Poems from Album Zutique And yellow as a piece of fruit, My mother who noisily climbed the stairs to bed ——Child of Labour, note well——my full-thighed Mother with huge hips making tucks in her clothes, Caused me fevers one keeps quiet about! A calmer, cruder shame was when My little sister, coming home from school, Her clogs worn thin by the ice underfoot, Pissed, and watched the slender thread Escaping from her tight, pink other lips!
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Oh, please forgive me! No, no one Knew such frequent torments, was so surprised! And then——allow me to address the Lord! Quoi savoir? What can I know? Father, have back The blue footwarmer. O that childhood! The Stupra The Idol. Often, it sucked in my murmured dream; Jealous of coitus that merits the name, My soul made it a wild, moist eye, its nest of tears. Medieval woman, sinner or saint, Needed her man to be properly endowed. Le sang! Tournons dans la Morsure: Ah!
A nous! Les volcans sauteront! None at all! But yes, We still want it! Industrialists, princes, senates, Die! Down with power, justice, history! This we are owed. All-out war, vengeance, terror, My soul! Vanish, Republics of this world! No more emperors, Regiments, settlers, people! Our turn now, Romantic friends; joy now. Europe, Asia, America, disappear. Our march of revenge has taken everything Cities, open land! Volcanoes will erupt! Oh, my friends! My heart, for sure, they are brothers.
I feel myself shake, the old earth On me, more and more yours! Elle, toute froide, et noire, court! Purer than a gold coin, warm and yellow eyelid, the marsh marigold——your conjugal vow, Wife! Alas, He, like a thousand angels dispersing down the road, fades beyond the mountain! She, utterly cold and dark, runs! Gold of April moons deep in the sacred bed! Joy of abandoned riverside yards, prey to August evenings which bred this decay! Let her weep now, beneath the ramparts! Ah, the powder shaken by a wing from willows! The reed-roses long since eaten up!
Some pale and golden liquid to make me sweat. Ce furent des pays noirs, des lacs, des perches, Des colonnades sous la nuit bleue, des gares. Then the storm changed the sky until evening. It was all black lands and lakes and poles, Colonnades under blue night, railway stations. Wood-water vanished over virgin sands. From the sky the wind pelted ponds with ice. To the sound of a hundred crows, true Good voice of angels, And sweeping forest pines lean When several winds swoop. Everything rolls with the sickening mysteries Of olden-day lands; Dungeons inspected, substantial parks; On these banks you hear The dead passions of knights-errant—— But how the wind restores!
Couverts des froides sueurs De la lune et des verdures. Nous sommes tes Grands-Parents Des champs. Covered in the cold sweat Of moon and greenery, Our dry wines had heart! Beneath the undeceiving sun What does man need? To Drink. Vois le Bitter sauvage Rouler du haut des monts! Venus, sister of the blue, Stir the pure wave. Wandering Norway Jews Tell me the snow. Old and dear exiles, Tell me the sea. See wild Bitter Beer Foam down from summits! Friends, what is drunkenness? But, vanish where the unleashed cloud dissolves ——Smiled on by what is fresh!
Mais des chansons spirituelles Voltigent parmi les groseilles. Le ciel est joli comme un ange. Je sors. Si un rayon me blesse Je succomberai sur la mousse. O Queen of Shepherds! Let our blood laugh in our veins, See the vines tangle. Water and sky become one. Fi de mes peines. A toi, Nature, je me rends; Et ma faim et toute ma soif.
My pointless pains. I want dramatic summer To tie me to its chariot of fortune. Nature, let me die so much by you, Less lonely, less useless! Not like Lovers——strange——who Die mostly by the world. I give myself up, Nature, to you, And my hunger, all my thirst. If it pleases you, nourish and quench. Nothing at all deceives me; To laugh at the sun means laughing at parents, But me, I want nothing, nothing: And may this misfortune live free.
I told myself: leave And keep out of sight: Forget any promise Of loftier joys. Let nothing impede Your Olympian retreat. Et la soif malsaine Obscurcit mes veines. Unhealthy thirsting Blackens my veins. Do we say prayers To the Virgin on high? The sea gone With the sun. There, no hope, No new start. Truth through patience Torture for sure. Found again. Que ta vie est claire! Environnez-moi De gloire pudique Last Poems Then it sings. O So happy, so easy, Visible to the naked eye And then a voice ——So angelic! O, beautiful chateau! How full of light your life!
Which Age is yours, Princely nature Of our older brother! Me too, I sing: Several sisters! Voices Not to be broadcast! Ring me round With modest glory Outside the birthwort-covered walls Vibrate with gummy goblins. So much the intrigues of genies. This expense, this vain disorder! An African fairy puts mulberry And nets of cobwebs in corners. Several displeased godmothers, Spangled with light, go into cupboards And stay!
Even malicious water-sprites Investigate the bed. Mais moi, Seigneur! Plain, deserts, meadow, horizons Are rinsed red by the storm. But me, Lord! Here are a thousand wolves, a thousand wild seeds This religious afternoon of storms bears away—— With some love for the bindweed——over Old Europe where a hundred hordes are on the move.
Afterwards, moonlight! Across the open plain Reddened warriors face black skies, Astride their slow, pale horses! Stones ring beneath this proud procession! Puis, comme rose et sapin du soleil Et liane ont ici leurs jeux enclos, Cage de la petite veuve! Gardons notre silence. What Flocks of birds, o iaio, iaio! Kiosk for the Woman crazed with love. Green bench where, to a guitar, the white Irish girl Sings to the paradise of storms. Then, from the Guiana dining-room, The chatter of children and cages. We must stay silent. Tournez, les faims!
Before this stretch of splendour where we should feel The breath of the city in bloom! Too beautiful! I eat air, Rock, earth, iron. Turn, my hungers! Hungers, feed, Field of bran! My hungers, scraps of black air; Ringing blue; ——Pullings of my stomach. Je vais aux chairs de fruit blettes. Au sein du sillon je cueille La doucette et la violette. Ma faim, Anne, Anne! Ce Charme! Last Poems On earth leaves have appeared! Anne, Anne, my hunger! Flee on your donkey. O seasons, o chateaux Long live happiness, each time The Gallic cockerel crows.
That Spell! What to make of my words? O seasons, o chateaux! Its disregard, alas! Must bring me instant death! Loin des claires meules des caps, des beaux toits, ces chers Anciens veulent ce philtre sournois Last Poems ——O Seasons, o Chateaux! In its neat haze by Phoebe! Now, the mist-breath of this nocturne is neither of stars nor festive days. But still they stay ——Sicily, Germany, in this sad, bland fog, just so!
But when he dies, dear God, Let at least some prayers be said! Emanations, explosions. Les servantes! He, though, was bored and vexed to such a degree that he simply marched on towards death as if towards a terrible and fatal grace. Not having loved women——yet full-blooded! Successive dreams——his loves! Think, perhaps, of the unbroken sleep of legendary Mahomedans——good men, and circumcised! At dinner, a room of candles and wines and rustic carvings. The dining-table is huge.
One of my old young friends was there, a priest dressed as a priest, now, in the interests of greater freedom. I recall his purple bedroom, its yellow paper window-panes; and his hidden books which had known the waters of the sea! Me, I was abandoned in this endless country cottage; reading in the kitchen, drying my muddy clothes in front of the guests conversing in the drawing-room; moved to death by the murmur of the morning milk and of the night of the last century.
I was in a darkened room; doing what? Je la renversai dans une corbeille de coussins et de toiles de navire, en un coin noir. Alors la femme disparut. She pinched my arm. I wrestled her into a basket of cushions and paintings of ships, in some dark corner. All I remember now are her white frilly knickers. Then, despair!
I was in an unlit room. Her arrival was announced; and I saw her in my bed, completely mine, no light! I was very moved, the more so as it was the family home; and then I became agonized! She had to go! Distress beyond words; I took her, and let her fall from the bed, half-naked; and in my indescribable weakness, I fell on her, and we rolled around the carpets in the dark. The family light reddened the adjoining rooms, one by one. Then the woman disappeared. I shed more tears than God has ever asked for.
I went into the endless city. Friends, to whom I shouted my question: where is she? I was in front of the windows of where she goes every evening; I ran through a sunken garden. All this made me cry and cry and cry. In the end, I went down into a place full of dust, and, sitting on timbers, I wept every tear in my body in time with the night——And yet exhaustion still would not release its hold.
Il ne les a pas vus. He has not seen them. Widespread wealth was conducive to virtually no enlightened discussion. Today, they believe in statesmen. Jesus was incapable of saying anything in Samaria. A miracle performed by youth, pale with rage, they thought. Jesus withdrew his hand; then a sudden gesture of childish, feminine pride. At a wedding, in a green and pink dining-hall, he had raised his voice a little to the Blessed Virgin Mary. And no one in Capernaum had spoken of the Cana wine, not in the marketplace, not on the quays. The town-dwellers, perhaps.
Bindweed and borage lit their magic lights among the paving-stones. At last, in the distance, he saw the dusty meadow, and daisies and buttercups beneath the sun, bent in supplication. O military laundry, o bath-house of the people. The sick descended, not jeering now, but eager. Their sins threw them back onto the steps, and forced them to position themselves elsewhere; for their Demon allows them to settle only where they are sure to receive alms.
Jesus entered shortly after noon. No one was washing nor bringing cattle to drink. The light in the pool was yellow, like the last leaves on the vine. The divine master stood against a pillar, watching the sons of sin; the Devil stuck out his tongue in their tongue; and laughed or Je me suis enfui. Je trouve mon habillement aussi barbare que le leur. Mais je ne beurre pas ma chevelure.
One evening, I sat Beauty on my knees. I armed myself against justice. O witches, poverty, hatred, it was to you my treasure was entrusted! I succeeded in making all human hope disappear from my mind. Silent as the predator, I pounced on every joy, to strangle it. Misfortune has been my god. I have stretched out in the mud. This key is charity. I consider my apparel as barbaric as theirs. Mais non, rien. Je ne me souviens pas plus loin que cette terre-ci et le christianisme.
From them I have inherited: idolatry and love of sacrilege;——oh! I abhor every trade. Owners and workers, peasants, the lot of them, mean and petty. The hand which writes is as good as the hand which ploughs. Then, servitude takes you too far. The honesty of begging is too much for me. Without using even my body to make a living, lazier than a toad, I have lived everywhere. If only I had antecedents at some point or other in the history of France! But no, nothing. It is quite obvious to me that I have always belonged to an inferior race.
I cannot understand rebellion. My race never rose up except to pillage: like wolves tearing at the animal they have not killed. I remember the history of France, eldest of the Church. I cannot remember anything beyond this land and Christianity. I could never stop seeing myself in this past. But always alone; without family: I even have to ask what language I spoke. Plus de vagabonds, plus de guerres vagues. On a tout repris. La science, la nouvelle noblesse! Le monde marche! Pourquoi ne tournerait-il pas? Me voici sur la plage armoricaine. On ne part pas. I can recognize myself only today.
No more vagabonds, no more vague wars. The inferior race spread everywhere——the people, as they say, reason; the nation, science. Everything has been appropriated. Geography, cosmography, mechanics, chemistry! Science, the new nobility!
The world strides on! Why might it not also spin? It is the vision of numbers. We are moving towards the Spirit. What I am saying is absolutely true, the voice of the oracle. I understand, and, incapable of expressing myself without pagan words, I would rather say nothing. Pagan blood returns! The Spirit is nearby, why does Christ not help me by giving my soul nobility and freedom. The Gospel has come and gone! The Gospel! The Gospel. Hungrily, I await God. I have belonged to an inferior race since time itself began. Now I am here, on the Brittany shore.
Let the cities light up in the evening. My day is done; I am leaving Europe. Sea air will burn into my lungs; the furthest climates will tan my skin. I shall return, with limbs of iron, dark skin, furious eyes; from my mask, it will be thought I belong to a mighty race.
I shall have gold; I shall be idle and brutal. Women nurse ferocious invalids like these on their return from hot countries. I shall be involved in politics. In the meantime I am damned, I abhor my country. The best thing to do is to fall into a really drunken sleep, on the shore. No one leaves. A qui me louer? Quelle sainte image attaque-t-on? Quel mensonge dois-je tenir? It is said and done. Not to take into the world my loathings and betrayals. Oh, then!
Walk, road, desert, boredom, anger. Hire myself out to whom? Worship which beast? Savage which holy image? Break which hearts? Which lie maintain? Walk in which blood? Better to guard against the law. In this way, no old age, nor dangers run: terror is not known to the French. O my abnegation! My marvellous charity! He had more strength than a saint, more good sense than any traveller——and he, he alone! In the cities, the mud suddenly seemed red and black to me, like a mirror when a lamp moves around in the next room, like treasure in the forest!
But orgies and the company of women were forbidden me. Not even a companion. Connais-je encore la nature? Cris, tambour, danse, danse, danse, danse! Faim, soif, cris, danse, danse, danse, danse! Le canon! I am an animal, a nigger. But I can be saved. You people are phoney niggers, maniacs, savages, misers. The sick and the old are so respectful that they demand to be boiled.
The cleverest thing to do is to leave this continent, where madness roams, searching out hostages for this dismal bunch. I am entering the true kingdom of the children of Ham. I bury the dead in my stomach. Shouts, drums, dance, dance, dance, dance! I cannot even envisage the time when, as the white men disembark, I shall plummet into nothingness. Hunger, thirst, shouts, dance, dance, dance, dance! The white men are landing.
Now we will have to accept baptism, clothes, work. Saving grace has stabbed my heart. I have done nothing evil. My days will be easy, I shall be spared repentance. I shall not have endured the torments of the soul halfdead to goodness, light rising bleak as funeral candles. Debauchery is stupid no doubt, vice is stupid; rottenness must be cast out. But the clock cannot yet have reached the point when it will strike only the hour of pure pain! Wealth has always been a public asset. Only Divine Love can bestow the keys to knowledge. I see that nature is merely a show of goodness.
Farewell chimeras, ideals, mistakes. The sensible song of angels rises from the rescue ship; it is divine love. I could die of earthly love, die of devotion. I have left behind souls whose grief can only grow because I have gone! Le monde est bon. Dieu fait ma force, et je loue Dieu. Je ne suis pas prisonnier de ma raison. Farce continuelle! Mon innocence me ferait pleurer. Voici la punition. Je suis faible! Les outils, les armes Save them! Reason is born in me. The world is good.
I shall bless life. I shall love my brothers. These are not childhood promises any more. Nor the hope of escaping old age and death. God is my strength, and I praise God. I am no longer in love with listlessness. Anger, debauchery, madness, whose surges and crashes I know full well,——all my burden is laid down. Let us assess with composure the extent of my innocence. I would no longer be capable of asking for the consolation of a beating. I am not a prisoner of my own reason. I have said: God. I want freedom in salvation: how to set about the search? My taste for frivolity has left me. No further need for devotion or divine love.
Contempt and charity, each has reason on its side; I keep my place at the top of this angelic ladder of good sense. As for settled happiness, domestic or otherwise I am too dissipated, too weak. If only God would grant me celestial calm, ethereal calm, prayer,——like the old saints. Farce without end! My innocence is enough to make me cry. Life is the farce we all of us must act out. This is the punishment. My lungs burn, my head throbs! My heart Where are we going? I am weak! Tools, weapons Je me jette aux pieds des chevaux! Les nobles ambitions! Pauvre innocent!
Tais-toi, mais tais-toi! That would be the French way of life, the path of honour! Night in Hell I have swallowed a mighty gulp of poison. The violence of the poison racks my limbs, renders me deformed, lays me out. I die of thirst, I choke, I cannot cry out. This is hell, the eternal torment! I am roasting nicely. So there, demon! I had glimpsed, once, the conversion to goodness and happiness, salvation. Noble ambitions! And still I am here, alive!
Could damnation be eternal? A man who wants to mutilate himself is truly damned, no? I think I am in hell, therefore I am. That is the catechism in action. I am the slave of my baptism. Parents, you have caused my unhappiness and your own. Poor innocent! Later, the delights of damnation will get deeper.
Quick, a crime, so that I may plunge into nothingness, according to human law. Shut up, shut up! Untruths whispered to me, magic, false scents, puerile music. The skin on my head is drying up. Mercy, Lord, I am afraid! I am thirsty, so thirsty! Ah, childhood, the grass, the rain, the lake on the stones, the moonlight as the church clock struck twelve Holy Virgin!
Les hallucinations sont innombrables. Je suis mille fois le plus riche, soyons avare comme la mer. Je ne suis plus au monde. Satan, Ferdinand, court avec les graines sauvages Ceci me fait peu regretter le monde. Plus aucun son. Mon tact a disparu. Les soirs, les matins, les nuits, les jours Suis-je las!
A pillow stops my mouth, they cannot hear me, they are ghosts. And then, no one ever thinks of others. Do not come near. The hallucinations cannot be counted. That is how it has always been for me: no more faith in history, principles forgotten. I shall be silent on this matter: poets and visionaries would be jealous. I am a thousand times richer than they, like the sea I shall store it up.
And see this, the clock of life stopped a while ago. I am no longer of the world. How the mind plays up in the country Satan, Old Nick, runs with the wild seed Jesus walks on crimson tangles of thorn and does not bend them Jesus walked on troubled waters once. In the lantern-light we saw him, robed in white, his hair brown and lank, standing on an emerald wave I shall unveil every mystery: religious or natural mysteries, death, birth, future, past, cosmogony, the void.
I am the master of phantasmagoria. I have all the talents! Or shall I disappear, or dive in search of the ring? Ask, and I shall make gold, cures. Trust me, then, faith relieves, guides, heals. Come, everyone,—— even the little children——let me console you, let someone give his heart for you——the marvellous heart! I do not ask for prayers; with your trust alone I shall be happy. All this scarcely makes me regret the world. My life was only sweet madness, and that is a shame.
There can be no doubt, we have left the world. Not a sound anywhere. My sense of touch has gone. Ah, my chateau, my Saxony, my willow wood. Evenings, mornings, nights, days Such fatigue! I should have a hell for my anger, a hell for my pride——there should be a hell for sex; a symphony of hells.