contains innumerable pages constantly expanding: click bottom table to go to other sections


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Notice by Paul Verlaine




The Enraged Poet

The book that we offer to the public was written from 1873 to 1875, among travels as well in Belgium as in England and in all Germany.

The word Illuminations is English and means coloured engravings, - coloured plates: it is even the subtitle that Mr Rimbaud had given to his manuscript.

As we will see, this one is composed of short pieces, exquisite prose or verse delightfully false on purpose. There is no main idea or at least we don't find it there. Obvious joy to be a great poet, such fairy landscapes, adorable hazy outlined loves and highest ambition (arrived) of style: so is the summary that we believe we can dare to give to the work below. To the reader to admire in detail.

Very short biographical notes will perhaps look nice.

Mr Arthur Rimbaud was born from a good middle-class family in Charleville (Ardennes) where he made excellent and rather revolted studies. At sixteen years he had written the most beautiful verse of the world, whose many extracts by us were formerly given in an wording called The Accursed Poets. He is now around thirty-two years, and travels to Asia where he deals with work of art. As you must say Faust of second Faust, genius engineer after having been the immense poet, alive student of Mephistopheles and owner of this blonde Marguerite!

He was said died several times. We are unaware of this detail, but we would be very sad. For his knowing in the case of he would be nothing of the sort. Because we were his friend and remain it from a distance.

Two other manuscripts in prose and some new verse will be published in their time.

A new portrait by Forain who also knew Mr Rimbaud will appear when it will be necessary.

In a very beautiful painting of Fantin-Latour, Corner of table, currently in Manchester we think, there is a portrait in bust of Mr Rimbaud at sixteen years.

Illuminations date from slightly later.

Corner of the Table

(To read the French originals click French title -- also check bilingual RIMBAUD 5-Illuminations)

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After the Flood [Après le deluge]
Childhood [Enfance]
Tale [Conte]
Side Show [Parade]
Antique [Antique]
Being Beauteous [Being Beauteous]
Lives [Vies]
Departure [Départ]
Royalty [Royauté]
To a Reason [A une Raison]
Morning of Drunkenness [Matinée d'Ivresse]
Sentences [Phrases]
Fragments [Fragments]
Workmen [Ouvriers]
The Bridges [Le ponts]
City [Ville]
Ruts [Ornières]
Cities [I] [Villes I]
Cities [II] [Villes II]
Vagabonds [Vagabonds]
Vigils [Veillées]
Mystic [Mystique]
Dawn [Aube]
Flowers [Fleurs]
Vulgar Nocturne [Nocturne vulgaire]
Seascape [Marine]
Winter Festival [Fête d'hiver]
Anguish [Angoisse]
Metropolitan [Métropolitain ]
Barbarian [Barbare]
Clearance Sale [Solde]
Fairy [Fairy]
War [Guerre]
Youth [Jeunesse]
Promontory [Promontoire]
Stages [Scènes]
Historical Evening [Soir historique]
Bottom [Bottom]
H [H]
Movement [Mouvement]
Prayer [Dévotion]
Democracy [Démocratie]
Genie [Génie]

[Translations being added as they become available]

{Some poems translated by Louise Varese, 1946}

AFTER THE FLOOD [Après le deluge]

As soon as the idea of the Flood was stale,

A hare stopped in the moving sainfoin and bellflowers, and said its prayer to the rainbow, through the spider's web.

Oh! the precious stones that were hiding—the flowers that already were gazing.

In the dirty main street, stalls were set up, and boats were hauled to the sea tiered up as in engravings.

Blood ran, at Bluebeard's—in slaughterhouses, at circuses, where the seal of God paled the windows. Blood and milk ran.

Beavers built. "Mazagrans" steamed in estaminets.

In the big glass house still wet, children in mourning-clothes saw the marvelous pictures.

A door slammed: and, in the hamlet square, the child turned his arms, understood by weather vanes and cocks on steeples everywhere, in the bursting downpour.

Madame *** set up a piano in the Alps. Mass and first communion were celebrated at the hundred thousand altars of the cathedral.

Caravans started out. And the Hotel Splendid was built in the chaos of ice and night at the pole.

From that moment, the Moon heard jackals whimpering in the deserts of thyme—and eclogues in sabots growling in the orchard. Then, in the violet stand of trees, Eucharis told me it was spring.

Rise, pond—foam, roll on the bridge and over the treetops—black sheets and organs, lightning and thunder, climb and roll—waters and glooms, climb and raise the Floods again.

For since they vanished—oh, the precious stones burying themselves, and the open flowers!—it's an annoyance! And the Queen, the Sorceress who lights her coal in the earthen pot, will never want to tell us what she knows, what we know not of.




That idol, black eyes and yellow mop, without parents or court, nobler than Mexican and Flemish fables; his domain, insolent azure and verdure, runs over beaches called by the shipless waves, names ferociously Greek, Slav, Celt.

At the border of the forest - dream flowers tinkle, flash, and flare, - the girl with orange lips, knees crossed in the clear flood that gushes from the fields, nakedness shaded, traversed, dressed by rainbow, flora, sea.

Ladies who stroll on terraces adjacent to the sea; baby girls and giantesses, superb blacks in the verdigris moss, jewels upright on the rich ground of groves and little thawed gardens, - young mothers and big sisters with eyes full of pilgrimages, sultanas, princesses tyrannical of costume and carriage, little foreign misses and young ladies gently unhappy.

What boredom, the hour of the "dear body" and "dear heart."


It is she, the little girl, dead behind the rosebushes.

- The young mamma, deceased, comes down the stoop. - The cousin's carriage creaks on the sand. - The little brother (he is in India!) there, before the western sky in the meadow of pinks. The old men who have been buried upright in the rampart overgrown with gillyflowers.

Swarms of golden leaves surround the general's house. They are in the south. - You follow the red road to reach the empty inn. The chateau is for sale; the shutters are coming off. The priest must have taken away the key of the church. Around the park the keepers' cottages are uninhabited. The enclosures are so high that nothing can be seen but the rustling tree tops. Besides, there is nothing to be seen within.

The meadows go up to the hamlets without anvils or cocks. The sluice gate is open. O the Calvaries and the windmills of the desert, the islands and the haystacks!

Magic flowers droned. The slopes cradled him. Beasts of a fabulous elegance moved about. The clouds gathered over the high sea, formed of an eternity of hot tears.


In the woods there is a bird; his song stops you and makes you blush.

There is a clock that never strikes.

There is a hollow with a nest of white beasts.

There is a cathedral that goes down and a lake that goes up.

There is a little carriage abandoned in the copse or that goes running down the road beribboned.

There is a troupe of little actors in costume, glimpsed on the road through the border of the woods.

And then, when you are hungry and thirsty, there is someone who drives you away.


I am the saint at prayer on the terrace like the peaceful beasts that graze down to the sea of Palestine.

I am the scholar of the dark armchair. Branches and rain hurl themselves at the windows of my library.

I am the pedestrian of the highroad by way of the dwarf woods; the roar of the sluices drowns my steps. I can see for a long time the melancholy wash of the setting sun.

I might well be the child abandoned on the jetty on its way to the high seas, the little farm boy following the lane, its forehead touching the sky.

The paths are rough. The hillocks are covered with broom. The air is motionless. How far away are the birds and the springs! It can only be the end of the world ahead.


Let them rent me this whitewashed tomb, at last, with cement lines in relief, - far down under ground.

I lean my elbows on the table, the lamp shines brightly on these newspapers I am fool enough to read again, these stupid books.

An enormous distance above my subterranean parlor, houses take root, fogs gather. The mud is red or black. Monstrous city, night without end!

Less high are the sewers. At the sides, nothing but the thickness of the globe. Chasms of azure, wells of fire perhaps. Perhaps it is on these levels that moons and comets meet, fables and seas.

In hours of bitterness, I imagine balls of sapphire, of metal. I am master of silence. Why should the semblance of an opening pale under one corner of the vault?


A Prince was vexed for never having devoted himself but to the perfection of vulgar generosities. He foresaw stunning revolutions of love, and suspected his women could do better than this complaisance embellished with heavens and luxury. He wanted to see the truth, the hour of desire and of essential gratifications. Were it or no an aberration of piety, he wanted. He possessed at least a rather broad human power.
All the women who had known him were assassinated: what havoc in the garden of beauty! Under the saber, they blessed him. He did not order any new ones—the women reappeared.
He killed all those who followed him, after the hunt or libations—all followed him.
He amused himself slaughtering luxury beasts. He set palaces on fire. He pounced on people and cut them to pieces—the crowd, the golden roofs, the beautiful beasts still existed.
One may find ecstasy in destruction, and be rejuvenated by cruelty! The people did not murmur. No-one offered the aid of his views.
One evening, he was galloping proudly. A Genie appeared, of a beauty ineffable, unavowable even. From his physiognomy and his bearing emerged the promise of a multiple and complex love! of an unspeakable happiness, insupportable even! The Prince and the Genie annihilated each other probably in essential health. How could they not have died of it? Together then they died
But this Prince expired, in his palace, at an ordinary age. The Prince was the Genie. The Genie was the Prince—savant music is lacking to our desire.

Rimbaud poster



Very sturdy rogues. Several have exploited your worlds. With no needs, and in no hurry to make use of their brilliant faculties and their knowledge of your conveniences. What ripe men! Eyes vacant like the summer night, red and black, tricolored, steel studded with gold stars; faces distorted, leaden, blanched, ablaze; burlesque hoarsenesses! The cruel strut of flashy finery! Some are young, - how would they look on Cherubin? - endowed with terrifying voices and some dangerous resources. They are sent buggering in the town, tricked out with nauseating luxury.

O the most violent Paradise of the furious grimace! Not to be compared with your Fakirs and other theatrical buffooneries. In improvised costumes like something out of a bad dream, they enact heroic romances of brigands and of demigods, more inspiriting than history or religions have ever been. Chinese, Hottentots, gypsies, simpletons, hyenas, Molochs, old dementias, sinister demons, they combine popular maternal turns with bestial poses and caresses. They would interpret new plays, "romantic" songs. Master jugglers, they transform place and persons and have recourse to magnetic comedy. Eyes flame, blood sings, bones swell, tears and red trickles flow, Their clowning or their terror lasts a minute or entire months.

I alone have the key to this savage side show.



Gracious son of Pan! Around your forehead crowned with flowerets and with laurel, restlessly roll those precious balls, your eyes. Spotted with brown lees, your cheeks are hollow. Your fangs gleam. Your breast is like a lyre, tinklings circulate through your pale arms. Your heart beats in that belly where sleeps the double sex. Walk through the night, gently moving that thigh, that second thigh, and that left leg.

Rimbaud mixage


[Being Beauteous]

Against the snow of Being a high-statured Beauty. Whistlings of death and circles of secret music make the adored body, like a specter, rise, expand, and quiver; wounds of black and scarlet burst in the superb flesh. - Life's own colors darken, dance, and drift around the Vision in the making. - Shudders rise and rumble, and the delerious savor of these effects clashing with the deadly hissings and the hoarse music that the world, far behind us, hurls at our mother of beauty, - she recoils, she rears up. Oh, our bones are clothed with an amorous new body.

* * *

O the ashy faces, the crined escutcheon, the crystal arms! the cannon on which I am to fall in the melee of trees and of light air!




O the enormous avenues of the Holy Land, the temple terraces! What has become of the Brahman who explained the proverbs to me? Of that time, of that place, I can still see even the old women! I remember silver hours and sunlight by the rivers, the hand of the country on my shoulder and our carresses standing on the spicy plains. - A flight of scarlet pigeons thunders round my thoughts. An exile here, I once had a stage on which to play all the masterpieces of literature. I would show you unheard-of riches. I note the story of the treasures you discovered. I see the outcome. My wisdom is as scorned as chaos. What is my nothingness to the stupor that awaits you?


I am the inventor more deserving far than all those who have preceeded me; a musician, moreover, who has discovered something like the key of love. At present, a country gentleman of a bleak land with a sober sky, I try to rouse myself with the memory of my beggar childhood, my apprenticeship or my arrival in wooden shoes, of polemics, of five or six widowings, and of certain convivalities when my level head kept me from rising to the diapason of my comrades. I do not regret my old portion of divine gaiety: the sober air of this bleak countryside feeds vigorously my dreadful skepticism. But since this skepticism cannot, henceforth be put to use, and since, moreover, I am dedicated to a new torment, - I expect to become a very vicious madman.


In a loft, where I was shut in when I was twelve, I got to know the world, I illustrated the human comedy. I learned history in a wine cellar. In a northern city, at some nocturnal revel, I met all the women of the old masters. In an old arcade in Paris, I was taught the classical sciences. In a magnificent dwelling encircled by the entire Orient, I accomplished my prodigious work and spent my illustrious retreat. I churned up my blood. My duty has been remitted. I must not even think of that anymore. I am really from beyond the tomb, and no commissions.


Saw enough. The vision is to be found on every wind.

Had enough. Rumors of towns, at evening, and in daylight, and always.

Knew enough. Life's decisions.—O Rumors and Visions!

Departure in affection and noise anew.

ROYALTY [Royauté]

One fair morning, amongst a very mild people, a superb man and woman shouted on the public square: "My friends, I would that she were queen!" "I would be queen!" She laughed and shook. He spoke to friends of revelation, of hardship ended. They swooned upon each other.

Indeed, they were kings all morning long, whilst carmine hangings went up on the houses, and all afternoon, whilst they moved forward from the palm gardens.


[A une Raison]

A rap of your finger on the drum fires all the sounds and starts a new harmony.

A step of yours, the levy of new men and their marching on.

Your head turns away: O the new love!

Your head turns back, - O the new love!

"Change our lots, confound the plagues, beginning with time", to you these children sing. "Raise no matter where the substance of our fortune and our desires" they beg you.

Arrival of all time, who will go everywhere.


[Matinée d'Ivresse]

O my Good! O my Beautiful! Appalling fanfare where I do not falter! rack of enchantmants! Hurrah for the wonderful work and for the marvelous body, for the first time! It began in the midst of children's laughter, with their laughter will it end. This poison will remain in all our veins even when, the fanfare turning, we shall be given back to the old disharmony. O now may we, so worthy of these tortures! fervently take up the superhuman promise made to our created body and soul: that promise, that madness! Elegance, science, violence! They promised to bury in darkness the tree of good and evil, to deport tyrannic respectability so that we might bring hither our very pure love. It began with a certain disgust and it ends, - unable to grasp this eternity, - it ends in a riot of perfumes.

Laughter of children, discretion of slaves, austerity of virgins, loathing of faces and objects here, holy be all of you in memory of this vigil. It began with every sort of boorishness, behold it ends with angels of flame and ice.

Little drunken vigil, holy! if only because of the mask you have bestowed on us. We pronounce you, method! We shall not forget that yesterday you glorified each one of our ages. We have faith in the poison. We know how to give our whole life every day.

Now is the time of the Assassins.



When the world is reduced to a single dark wood for our four eyes' astonishment, - a beach for two faithful children, - a musical house for one pure sympathy, - I shall find you.

Should there be here below but a single old man, handsome and calm in the midst of "incredible luxury", I shall be at your feet.

Should I have realized all your memories, - should I be the one who can bind you hand and foot, - I shall strangle you.

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When we are very strong, - who draws back? very gay, - who cares for ridicule? When we are very bad, - what would they do with us.

Deck yourself, dance, laugh, - I could never throw Love out of the window.

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- My comrade, beggar girl, monster child! O it's all one to you these unhappy women, these wiles, and my discomfiture. Bind yourself to us with your impossible voice, your voice! sole soother of this vile despair.



An overcast morning in July. A taste of ashes flies through the air; - an odor of sweating wood on the hearth, - dew-ret flowers, - devastation along the promenades, - the mist of the canals over the fields - why not incense and toys already?

* * *

I have stretched ropes from steeple to steeple; garlands from window to window; golden chains from star to star, and I dance.

* * *

The upland pond smokes continuously. What witch will rise against the white west sky? What violet frondescence fall?

* * *

While public funds evaporate in feasts of fraternity, a bell of rosy fire rings in the clouds.

* * *

Reviving a pleasant taste of India ink, a black powder rains on my vigil. I lower the jets of the chandelier, I throw myself on my bed, and turning my face towards the darkness, I see you, my daughters! my queens!

WORKMEN [Ouvriers]

O that hot February morning. The inopportune South came to relieve our memories of absurd indigence, our young misery.

Henrika had on a cotton skirt with brown and white checks, which must have been worn in the last century, a ribbon bonnet and a silk scarf. It was much sadder than mourning. We were going round the suburb. The weather was overcast, and the South wind excited all the nasty odors of the ravaged gardens and the desiccated fields.

That must not have wearied my wife to the same extent as me. In a puddle left by the inundation of the previous month on a rather high path she drew my attention to very small fish.

The city, with its smoke and trade noises, followed us very far in the roads. O the other world, the habitation blessed by heaven, and the shades! The South recalled to me the miserable incidents of my childhood, my summer despairs, the horrible quantity of strength and science that fate has always kept from me. No! we shall not pass summer in this greedy country where we shall always be only engaged orphans. I want this hardened arm to drag no more a dear image.

THE BRIDGES [Le ponts]

Skies crystal gray. A bizarre design of bridges, some straight, some humped, others descending or obliquing on corners of the first; and these figures repeating in the other lighted circuits of the canal, but all so long and light that the banks, laden with domes, drop and diminish. A few of these bridges are already laden with ramshackle houses. Others support masts, signals, frail parapets. Minor chords cross, and go off; ropes climb the riverbanks. You make out a red jacket, perhaps other costumes and musical instruments. Are these popular tunes, bits of lordly concerts, scraps of public hymns? The water is gray and blue, broad as an arm of the sea—a pallid beam, falling from the height of heaven, annihilates this comedy.

CITY [Ville]

I am an ephemeral and not too discontented citizen of a metropolis believed modern, because all known taste has been eluded in the furnishings and the exterior of the houses as well as in the city plan. Here you would indicate traces of no monument of superstition. Morals and language are reduced to their simplest expression, finally! These millions of people who have no need to know each other bring about so alike education, jobs, and old age, that this course of life must be several times less long than what a foolish statistic finds for the people of the Continent. Also as, from my window, I see new specters rolling through the thick and eternal coal smoke—our woodland shade, our summer night!—new Erinnyes, before my cottage which is my nation and my whole heart since everything here resembles it—Death without tears, our active daughter and servant girl, a Love in despair and a pretty Crime whimpering in the mud of the street.

RUTS [Ornières]

On the right the summer dawn awakes the leaves and vapors and noises of this part of the park, and the embankments left hold in their violet shade the thousand rapid ruts of the damp road. Procession of fairylike visions! Indeed: cars charged with animals of gilded wood, masts and canvases of many colors, to the grand gallop of twenty dappled circus horses, and children, and men, on their most astounding beasts—twenty vehicles, labored, decked out and beflowered like coaches of old or in stories, filled with children dolled up for a suburban pastoral—even coffins on their night dais hoisting their ebony plumes, flying to the trot of black and blue mares.

CITIES I [Villes]

These are cities! This is a people for whom are risen these Alleghenies and Lebanons of dream! Chalets of crystal and wood move on invisible rails and pulleys. Old craters ringed with colossi and copper palm trees roar melodiously in the fires. Amorous feasts knell over the canals suspended behind the chalets. The carillon hunting ground shouts in the gorges. Corporations of giant singers run along in vestments and oriflammes as dazzling as the light of peaks. On the platforms, amidst gulfs, Rolands sound their bravura. On the gangways of the abyss and the innroofs, the ardor of the sky flags the masts. The crumbling of apotheoses unites with fields of heights where seraphic centauresses evolve among avalanches. Above the level of the high aretes, a sea troubled by the eternal birth of Venus, laden with orpheonic fleets and the rumor of precious pearls and conches, the sea darkens at times with mortal flashes. On the slopes, harvests of flowers as big as our weapons and cups bellow. Corteges of Mabs in dresses russet, opaline, climb the ravines. Higher, feet in the cascade and the brambles, stags suckle at Diana. Suburban Bacchantes sob and the moon burns and yells. Venus goes into the caverns of blacksmiths and hermits. Groups of belfries sing the ideas of peoples. From castles built of bone comes unknown music. All legends evolve and elk charge through the streets. The storm paradise breaks down. Savages dance unceasingly the night feast. And, one hour, I descended into the stir of a Baghdad boulevard where companies sang the joy of new work, under a thick breeze, circulating powerless to elude the fabulous phantoms of mountains where one was to meet again.


The official acropolis outdoes the colossalest conceptions of modern barbarity. Impossible to express the flat daylight produced by this sky, immutably gray, the buildings' imperial éclat, and the ground's eternal snow. There is reproduced, in singular taste for enormity, all the classic marvels of architecture, and I visit painting exhibitions in premises twenty times more vast than Hampton Court. What paintings! A Norwegian Nebuchadnezzar had the Ministries' staircases built; the subalterns I've been able to see are already prouder than Brahmins, and I shook at the sight of the colossi watchmen and the building officials. By grouping edifices in squares, courts and terraces, coachmen have been ousted. The parks represent primitive nature worked by a superb art, the old quarter has inexplicable parts, an arm of the sea, with no boats, rolls its sheet of blue hail amidst quays laden with giant candelabra. A small bridge leads to a postern immediately below the Holy Chapel's dome. That dome is an artistic steel armature about fifteen thousand feet in diameter.

On several points of the copper gangways, the platforms, the stairways that wind around markets and pillars, I thought I could judge the depth of the city! The prodigy I can't account for: what are the levels of the other quarters above or below the acropolis? For the stranger of our time, reconnaissance is impossible. The business quarter is a circus in just one style, with galleries of arcades. You see no shops, but the snow on the roadways is dwarfed; some nabobs, as rare as Sunday promenaders in London, dive for a diamond diligence. Some red velvet divans: polar drinks are served whose price varies from eight hundred to eight thousand rupees. At the idea of seeking out theaters on this circus, I tell myself the shops must contain somber enough dramas. I think there is a police; but the law must be so strange, that I renounce conceiving the adventurers here.

The suburb, as elegant as a fine Paris street, is favored with an air of light; the democratic element numbers a few hundred souls. There again, the houses don't go on; the suburb disappears bizarrely in the country, the "County" that fills the eternal occident of forests and prodigious plantations where wild gentlemen hunt their chronicles beneath the created light.



Rimbaud pitoyable - by Verlaine
Rimbaud by Verlaine in a letter to Delahaye, October 26, 1875.
From the book "Passion Rimbaud" by CLaude Jeancolas.

Pitiful brother! What frightful nights I owed him! "I have not put enough ardor into this enterprise. I have trifled with his infirmity. My fault should we go back to exile, and to slavery." He implied I was unlucky and of a very strange innocence, and would add disquieting reasons.

For reply, I would jeer at this Satanic doctor and, in the end, going over to the window, I would create, beyond the countryside crossed by bands of rare music, phantoms of nocternal extravegence to come.

After this vaguely hygenic diversion, I would lie down on my pallet and no sooner asleep than, almost every night, the poor brother would rise, his mouth foul, eyes starting from his head, - just as he had dreamed he looked! - and would drag me into the room, howling his dream of imbecilic sorrow.

I had, in truth, pledged myself to restore him to his primitive state of child of the Sun, - and, nourished by the wine of caverns and the biscuit of the road, we wandered, I impatient to find the place and the formula.




It is a repose in the light, neither fever nor langour, on the bed or on the meadow.

It is the friend neither violent nor weak. The friend.

It is the beloved neither tormenting nor tormented. The beloved.

Air and the world not sought. Life.

- Was it really this?

- And the dream grew cold.


The lighting comes round to the crown post again. From the two extremities of the room - decorations negligible - harmonic elevations join. The wall opposite the watcher is a psychological succession of atmospheric sections of friezes, bands, and geological accidents. Intense quick dream of sentimental groups with people of all possible characters amidst all possible appearances.


The lamps and the rugs of the vigil make the noise of waves in the night, along the hull and around the steerage. The sea of the vigil, like Emily's breasts. The hangings, halfway up, undergrowth of emerald tinted lace, where dart the vigil doves.

. . . . . . . . .

The plaque of the black hearth, real suns of seashores; ah! magic wells; only sight of dawn, this time.


On the bankside angels turn their woolen skirts in steel-and-emerald pastures.

Fields of flame leap to the peak of the hillock. On the left the arete's compost is stomped on by all homicides and battles, and all disastrous noise runs its curve. Behind the arete on the right, the line of Orients, of progress.

And while the band at the top of the picture is formed of the turning leaping rumor of seashells and human nights,

The blooming sweetness of the stars and the heavens and the rest descends upon the bankside, like a basket—against our face, and makes the abyss blossoming and blue beneath.




I embraced the summer dawn.

Nothing yet stirred on the face of the palaces. The water is dead. The shadows still camped in the woodland road. I walked, waking quick warm breaths, and gems looked on, and wings rose without a sound.

The first venture was, in a path already filled with fresh, pale gleams, a flower who told me her name.

I laughed at the blond wasserfall that tousled through the pines: on the silver summit I recognized the goddess.

Then, one by one, I lifted up her veils. In the lane, waving my arms. Across the plain, where I notified the cock. In the city, she fled among the steeples and the domes, and running like a beggar on the marble quays, I chased her.

Above the road near a laurel wood, I wrapped her up in gathered veils, and I felt a little her immense body. Dawn and the child fell down at the edge of the wood.

Waking, it was noon.


From a golden step—among cordons of silk, gray gauzes, green velvets, crystal disks that darken like bronze in the sun—I see the digitalis open on a carpet filigreed of silver, hair and eyes.

Pieces of yellow gold strewn over agate, mahogany pillars supporting a dome of emeralds, bouquets of white satin and wands of rubies ring the water rose.

Like a god with enormous blue eyes and shapes of snow, the sea and sky attract to terraces of marble the crowd of young and strong roses.


One breath opens operatic breaches in the barrier—blurs the pivoting of worn roofs—disperses the limits of the foyers—eclipses the casements.

Along the vine, having put my foot on a gargoyle—I descended into this coach whose epoch is indicated enough by convex mirrors, curved panels and contour sofas. Hearse of my slumber, isolated, house of the shepherd of my silliness, the vehicle veers onto the grass of the old effaced road: and in a defect at the top of the righthand mirror whirl pale lunar figures, leaves, breasts.

—A green and blue very deep invade the image.

Unhitching around a patch of gravel.

—Here one will whistle for the storm, and Sodoms and Solymas, and ferocious beasts and armies,

(Postilion and beasts of dream will they again under the most suffocating forests, drop me to the eyes in the wellspring of silk?)

And send us, lashed across lapping waters and spilled drinks, rolling to the baying of mastiffs...

—One breath disperses the limits of the foyer.



Chariots of copper and of silver -
Prows of silver and steel -
Thresh upon the foam, -
Upheave the stumps and brambles.
The currents of the heath,
And the enormous ruts of the ebb,
Flow circularly toward the east,
Toward the pillars of the forest, -
Toward the boles of the jetty,
Against whose edge whirlwinds of light collide.


The cascade rings behind the comic opera huts. Girandoles prolong, in the orchards and lanes beside the Meander—the greens and reds of sundown. Horatian nymphs with First Empire hair—Siberian Rounddances, Chinese women by Boucher.


Could it be She will have me pardoned for ambitions continually crushed—an easy end repair ages of indigence—one day of success lull us on the shore of our fatal inability?

(O palms! diamond!—love, strength!—higher than all joy and glory!—anyhow—everywhere, demon, god—youth of this being: me!)

Accidents of scientific faëry and movements of social fraternity be cherished as progressive restitution of the first frankness?...

But the Vampire who makes us nice commands that we amuse ourselves with what she leaves us, or otherwise be more droll.

Roll on wounds, through the wearying air and sea; in tortures, through silence of murderous waters and air; in torments that laugh, in their silence atrociously howling.


From indigo straits to Ossian seas, on pink and orange sand laved by the vinous heavens, have just gone up and crossed boulevards of crystal inhabited incontinently by poor young families who feed at the fruiterer's. Nothing rich—the city!

From the bituminous desert flee straight, put to rout with the sheets of fog spaced out in fearsome bands in the sky which curves, recoils and descends formed of the most sinister black smoke to be made by Ocean in mourning, helmets, wheels, boats, croups—the battle!

Raise your head: this wooden bridge, arched; these last vegetable gardens of Samaria; these illuminated masks under the lantern lashed by the cold night; silly water sprite in a loud dress, down in the river; these luminous skulls in planes of peas—and the other phantasmagoria—the countryside.

Roads lined with grillwork and walls, scarcely containing their coppices, and the atrocious flowers that would be called hearts and sisters, Damascus damning with languor—possessions of fairy aristocracies ultra-Rhenish, Japanese, Guaranian, liable still to receive the music of the ancients—and there are inns which, for always, already open no more—there are princesses, and, if you are not too overcome, studying the stars—the sky.

The morning when, with Her, you struggled among these flashes of snow, green lips, ice sheets, black flags and blue rays, and these purple perfumes of polar sun—your strength.


Well after the days and seasons, and beings and lands,

The bleeding meat flag on the silk of seas and arctic flowers (they do not exist).

Back from old fanfares of heroism—which still attack our heart and head—far from ancient assassins,

Oh! the bleeding meat flag on the silk of seas and arctic flowers (they do not exist)—


The infernos, raining in gusts of rime—sweetness!—the fires in the rains of a wind of diamonds hurled by the terrestrial heart eternally carbonized for us—o world!

(Far from the old retreats and old flames you hear, you feel.)

Infernos and foams. Music, tack of gulfs and shocks of ice and stars.

O sweetness, o world, o music! And there, the forms, sweat, hair and eyes, floating. And the pallid tears, boiling—o sweetness!—and the feminine voice coming to the deeps of volcanos and arctic grottos.

The flag...


For sale, what Jews have not sold, what nobility and crime have not tasted, what is unknown to the accursed love and the fatal probity of the masses; what time nor science need recognize:

The Voices reconstituted; the fraternal awakening of all choral and orchestral energies and their instantaneous application; the occasion, unique, of releasing our senses!

For sale priceless Bodies, out of any race, any world, any sex, any descent! Riches leaping at every step! Uncontrolled sale of diamonds!

For sale anarchy to the masses; irrepressible satisfaction for superior amateurs; atrocious death for the faithful and lovers!

For sale habitations and migrations, sports, fairylike visions and perfect comforts, and the noise, the movement and the future they make!

For sale the applications of calculus and the unheard-of leaps of harmony. Discoveries and terms unsuspected—immediate possession.

Insensate and infinite élan toward invisible splendors, insensible delights—and its fearsome secrets for each vice—and its frightful gaiety for the crowd.

For sale bodies, voices, immense unquestionable opulence, what shall never be sold. The sellers are not at the end of the sale! Travelers need not render their commissions so early.


For Helen conspired ornamental sap in virgin shadows and impassive light in astral silence. The ardor of summer was confided to mute birds and the indolence requisite to a priceless mourning boat by souls of dead loves and subsiding perfumes.

—After the moment of the lumberwomen's air on the rumor of the torrent under the ruin of the wood, of cowbells in valley echoes, and cries of the steppes—

For the childhood of Helen trembled furs and shadows, and the breast of the poor, and the legends of heaven.

And her eyes and her dance superior even to precious flashes, to cold influences, to the pleasure of the décor and the hour unique.



When a child, certain skies sharpened my vision: all their characters were reflected in my face. The Phenomena were roused. - At present, the eternal inflection of moments and the infinity of mathematics drives me through this world where I meet with every civil honor, respected by strange children and prodigious affections. - I dream of a War of right and of might, of unlooked-for logic.

It is as simple as a musical phrase.



Sums aside, the inevitable descent from heaven and the visit of memories and the assembly of rhythms occupy the dwelling, the head and the world of the spirit.

—A horse takes off on the suburban turf, and along farmlands and afforestations, riddled with carbonic plague. A miserable woman of drama, somewhere in the world, sighs after improbable abandons. Desperados languish after storm, drunkenness and wounds. Small children stifle maledictions along the rivers.

Let us resume study in the noise of the consuming work gathering and rising in the masses.


Man of ordinary constitution, was not the flesh a fruit hanging in the orchard, o infant days! the body a treasure to lavish; o to love, peril or might of Psyche? The earth had slopes fertile in princes and artists, and lineage and race drove you to crimes and mourning: the world, your fortune and your peril. But at present, that labor fulfilled, you, your sums—you, your impatience—are nothing more than your dance and your voice, not fixed and unforced, although for a double event of invention and success a reason—in fraternal and discreet humanity through the universe without images—might and right reflect dance and voice at present only appreciated.


Instructive voices exiled... physical ingenuousness bitterly sobered... adagio—ah! the infinite egoism of adolescence, studious optimism: how the world was full of flowers that summer! Airs and forms dying... a choir, to calm impotence and absence! A choir of glasses, of nocturnal melodies... indeed, the nerves go quick to hunt.

You are still at the temptation of Anthony. The frolic of curtailed zeal, the tics of puerile youth, subsidence and fright.

But you will sit down to this labor: all harmonic and architectural possibilities will stir around your chair. Beings perfect, unforeseen, will volunteer for your experiments. In your environs will flow dreamily the curiosity of ancient crowds and lazy luxuries. Your memory and your senses will be only the nourishment of your creative impulse. As for the world, when you leave, what will it have become? In any case, nothing of present appearances.


The golden sunup and the trembling evening find our brig lying off this villa and its outbuildings as extensive as Epirus and the Peloponnesus, or the big island of Japan, or Arabia! Fanes lit up by the return of processions; immense views of the defense of modern coasts; dunes illustrated with hot flowers and bacchanals; grand canals of Carthage and Embankments of a shady Venice; mushy eruptions of Etnas and crevasses of flowers and waters of glaciers; wash houses ringed by German poplars, singular park embankments bending down the Tree of Japan; and the circular façades of the "Royal" or the "Grand" of Scarborough and Brooklyn; and their railways flank, cross, overhang the arrangements of this Hotel, chosen in the history of the most elegant and the most colossal constructions of Italy, America and Asia, whose windows and terraces, at present full of lights, drinks and rich breezes, are open to the spirit of travelers and noblemen—who permit, during daylight hours, all the tarantellas of the coasts—and even ritornellos from the illustrious valleys of art to decorate marvelously the façades of the Promontory-Palace.


Ancient Comedy pursues its accords and divides its Idylls:

Stage boulevards.

A long wooden pier from one end to the other of a rocky field where the barbaric crowd mills under bare trees.

In corridors of black gauze, following the steps of promenaders with lanterns and leaves,

Birds from the mystery plays swoop down upon a masonry pontoon moved by the covered archipelago of spectators' small craft.

Lyric scenes, accompaniment with flute and drum, bow in cubbyholes managed under ceilings around modern club salons or halls of the ancient Orient.

The extravaganza maneuvers to the summit of an amphitheater crowned with a coppice—or bustles and modulates for Boetians, in the shade of trees moving, at the edge of farmlands.

The comic opera divides on our stage at the edge of ten partitions set up from the gallery to the footlights.


On some evening, for example, which finds the tourist naive, retired from our economic horrors, a master's hand animates the harpsichord of the fields; you play cards at the bottom of the pond, mirror evocative of queens and minions; you have sainted women, veils, and strings of harmony, and legendary chromaticisms, at sundown.

He shivers at the passing of huntsmen and hordes. Comedy trickles on the boards of the lawn. And the embarrassment of the poor and weak over these stupid plans!

To his slavish vision, Germany scaffolds itself toward moons; Tartar deserts are lighted; ancient revolts teem in the center of the Celestial Empire; on the stairways and armchairs of the rocks, a little world pale and flat, Africa and Occidents, will be built. Then a ballet of well-known seas and nights, a worthless chemistry, and impossible melodies.

The same middle-class magic at every point the mail train deposits us! The most elementary physicist feels it is no longer possible to submit to that personal atmosphere, fog of physical remorse, noticing which is already an affliction.

No! The steamroom moment, seas borne off, subterranean blazes, the absconded planet, and consequent exterminations, certitudes so little malignly indicated in the Bible and by the Norns and which it will be given to the serious being to observe—yet it will not be at all a legendary effect!


Reality being too thorny for my grand character—I found myself nevertheless at my lady's, a great gray-blue bird soaring to the moldings of the ceiling and dragging my wings in the shadows of the evening.

I was, at the foot of the baldaquin supporting her adored gems and physical masterpieces, a great bear with violet gums and hair hoary with grief, eyes on the crystal and silver of the console tables.

All became shadow and ardent aquarium.

In the morning—a battlesome June dawn—I ran to the fields, an ass, trumpeting and flourishing my grievance, until the Sabines of the outskirts came to fling themselves on my breast.


Every monstrosity violates the atrocious gestures of Hortense. Her solitude is erotic engineering; her lassitude, amorous dynamics. Under a childhood's surveillance, she has been, in numerous epochs, the ardent hygiene of races. Her door is open to misery. There, the morality of present beings disembodies in her passion or her action—o terrible shiver of novice loves on the bloody ground and in bright hydrogen!—find Hortense.


The winding movement on the bank at the river's falls,
The sternpost abyss,
The celerity of the rail,
The current's whims
Lead through unheard-of lights
And chemical novelty
The travelers ringed by waterspouts of valley
And strom.

They are the conquerors of the world
Seeking personal chemical fortune;
Sport and comfort travel with them;
They lead on education
Of races, classes and beasts, on this vessel
Repose and vertigo
To diluvian light,
To terrible evenings of study.

For from the chat among the gear, blood, flowers, fire, jewels,
From the agitated accounts to this runaway riverbank
—You see, rolling like a dike beyond the hydraulic power way,
Monstrous, unceasingly lighted—their study stock;
They driven into harmonic ecstasy,
And the heroism of discovery.

In atmospheric accidents the most surprising,
A youthful couple stands aside on the ark
—Is it ancient unsociableness you pardon?—
And sings and takes a post.


To Sister Louise Vanaen de Voringhem—her blue cornet turned to the North Sea—for the shipwrecked.

To Sister Léonie Aubois d'Ashby Baou—the buzzing stinking summer grass—for mothers' and children's fever.

To Lulu—demon—who has kept a taste for oratories from the time of Les Amies and her incomplete education. For men!—to Madame ***.

To the adolescent that I was. To that holy old man, hermitage or mission.

To the spirit of the poor. And to a very high clergy.

As well, to every cult in every place of memorial cult and such events as require submission, following the aspirations of the moment or indeed our own serious vice.

This evening, to Circeto of the high ice, fat as fish, and illuminated like the ten months of red night—(her heart amber and spunk)—for my only prayer mute as those regions of night, and preceding bravuras more violent than that polar chaos.

At all cost and with every air, even in metaphysical travels—but no more then.


"The flag goes to the unclean landscape, and our patois smothers the drum.

"In the centers we shall feed the most cynical prostitution. We shall massacre logical revolts.

"To peppery and soaked lands!—in the service of the most monstrous industrial or military exploitations.

"Farewell to this, no matter where. Conscripts of good will, we shall have ferocious philosophy; ignoramuses for science, roués for comfort; and let the world go hang. This is the real march. Forward, let's go."

La musique adoucit



He is affection and the present because he has made the house which is open to the frothy winter and to the murmur of summer, he who has purified drink and food, he who is the charm of fugitive places and the superhuman delight of halts. He is the affection and the future, the strength and the love which we, standing in rage and boredom, see passing in the stormy sky among banners of ectasy.

He is love, the measure perfect and reinvented, marvellous and unexpected reason, and eternity: beloved machine of the fatal powers. We have all known the terror of his yielding and of our own: O delight in our health, impetus of our faculties, selfish affection and passion for him, him who loves us for his eternal life...

And we call him back to us and he travels on... And if Adoration goes away, ring, his promise rings: "Away with these superstitions, these old bodies, these couples and these ages. It is this epoch that has sunk!"

He will not go away, he will not descend from any heaven again, he will not achieve the redemption of women's anger and men's gaieties and all that sin: because it is done, because he exists and is loved.

O his breaths, his heads, his runnings; the terrible swiftness of the perfection of forms and of action.

O fruitfulness of the mind and immensity of the universe.

His body! The dreamed-of redemption, the shattering of grace meeting with new violence!

The sight of him, the sight of him! all the old kneelings and pains lifted at his passing.

His light! the abolition of all audible and moving suffering in more intense music.

His step! migrations more enormous than the old invasions.

O He and We! pride more benign than wasted charities.

O world! and the clear song of new misfortunes!

He has known us all and has loved us all. May we know, this winter night, from promontory to promontory, from the tumultuous pole to the country house, from the multitude to the beach, from looks to looks, strength and feelings wearied, how to hail him and see him, and to send him away, and beneath the tides and at the top of the deserts of snow, to follow his vision, his breath, his body, his light.

~ ~ ~

[Translated by Oliver Bernard: Arthur Rimbaud, Collected Poems, 1962]

~ ~ ~ ~

Rimbaud's Reflections

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