Arthur Rimbaud, Complete Works
Translated by Paul Schmidt
And so I come back to the boy-genius, enfant terrible whose Illuminations I bought while at Bellarmine (under the influence of a Kerouac whose words I enjoyed but whose life was not a practical model). And true as well with Rimbaud — what a mess of adolescence, what dissolution, no wonder the Beats jumped on his bandwagon. No thanks. I’ve more sympathy for the adult, boring Rimbaud than the precious, self-conscious, self-centered Poet of the universe, even with his theory of illuminism and the consequent perverting of the senses. Demais!
Although I must say, I like parts of A Season in Hell for which selections see below (Schmidt: “A Season in Hell has literary precedents: It is a set of philosophical meditations, a confessional handbook, a mystical vision of the Soul. But it wakes new vibrations in its style: a nervous, compacted, often vernacular use of poetic language in prose. It is, as Rimbaud said, ‘absolutely modern.’”) For I am impressed by the devotion & delirium & detachment it took to compose such a “confession.”
I can’t say that there really are many poems herein worth memorizing. Sure, I could use some lines and maybe images, but other than the list of re-readables (principally Bateau Ivre and Saison), I can put this away till another day (maybe after I’ve read Baudelaire and Breton) and want to give him another try.
I don’t get the fascination, although there were some lines in poetry and letters that did catch me. But I wonder if I will ever be tempted to reread him, to sit down and spend 2 to 3 hours with this Seer. It’s a coin-flip.
Poems Worth Rereading—- Read the rest of this entry »