Notebook, 1993-


Rimbaud, ILLUMINATIONS and Other Prose Poems, Translated by Louise Varèse, Revised Edition, A New Directions Paperbook, 1957.

R i m b a u d

"Un souffle ouvre des brèches opératiques dans les cloisons, -brouille le pivotement des toits rongés, -dispserse les limites des foyers, - éclipse les croisées . . . . "

["A breath opens operatic breaches in the walls, - blurs the pivoting of crumbling roofs, - disperses the boundaries of hearths, -eclipses the windows . . . . "

[From: 'Nocturne Vulgaire' /'Common Nocturn'.]

One fine morning, in a land of very gentle people, a superb man and woman shouted in the public square: "Friends, I want her to be queen!" "I want to be queen!" She laughed and trembled. He spoke to his friends of revelation, of ordeals terminated. They leaned on each other in ecstasy.

They were indeed sovereigns for a whole morning, while all the houses were adorned with crimson hangings, and for an entire afternoon, while they made their way toward the palm gardens.

[From: 'Royalty']

"Au bois il y a un oiseau, son chant vous arrête et vous fait rougir . . . . . ["In the woods there is a bird; his song stops you and make you blush . . . . "] [From: 'Childhood']

"Un cup de ton doigt sur le tambour décharge tous les sons et commence la nouvelle harmonie . . . . " [From: 'A Une Raison']

Assez vu. La vision s'est rencontrée à tous les airs.
Assez eu. Rumeurs des villes, le soit, et au soleil, et toujours.
Assez connu. Les arrêts de la vie. -O Rumerus et Visions!
Départ dan l'affection et le bruit neufs.


[Seen enough. The vision was met with in every air.
Had enough. Sounds of cities, in the evening and in the sun and always.
Known enough. Life's halts. - O Sounds and Visions!
Departure in new affection and new noise.]


"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 . . . . "

Aux heures d'amertume, je m'imagine des boules de saphir, de métal. Je suis maître du silence. Pourquoi une apparence de soupirail blêmirait-elle au coin de la voûtte?

[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? . . . . ]

He is affection and the present since he has made the house open to foamy winter and to the murmur of summer--he who has purified food and drink--he who is the charm of fleeing places and the superhuman delight of stations. --He is affection and the future, love and strength whom we, standing in our rages and our boredoms, see passing in the stormy sky and banners of ecstasy.

He is love, perfect measure reinvented, marvelous and unlooked-for reason, and eternity: loved instrument of fatal qualities. We all have known the terror of his concession and of ours: O relish of health, the soaring of our faculties, selfish affection and passion for him, --for him who loves us for his infinite life...

And we remember him and he has gone on a journey... And if Adoration goes, rings, his promise rings: ñAway these superstitions, these ancient bodies, these couples, and these ages. It is this epoch that has foundered!:

He will not go away, he will not come down again from any heaven, he will not accomplish the redemption of the angers of women and the gaieties of men or of all this sin: for it is done, he being, and being loved.

O his breaths, his heads, his flights: terrible celerity of the perfection of forms and action.

O fecundity of the mind and immensity of the universe!

His body! The dreamed-of release, the shattering of grace crossed by new violence! His vision, his vision! All the old kneelings and the pains raised at his passing.

His day! The abolition of all resounding and restless sufferings in intenser music.

His step! Migrations more vast than the ancient invasions.

O he and we! Pride more compassionate than the lost charities.

O world and the pure song of new evils!

He has known us all and all of us has loved: Take heed this winter night, from cape to cape, from the tumultuous pole to the castle, from the crowd to the shore, from glance to glance, force and feelings weary, to hail him, to see him and to send him away, and under the tides and high in the deserts of snow, to follow his visions, --his breaths, --his body, --his day.

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.

After The Deluge
As soon as the idea of the Deluge had subsided, A hare stopped in the clover and swaying flowerbells, and said a prayer to the rainbow, through the spider's web . . . .

Oh! the precious stones that began to hide, --and the flowers that already looked around.

In the dirty main street, stalls were set up and boats were hauled toward the sea, high tiered as in old prints.

Blood flowed at Blue Beard's, --through slaughterhouses, in circuses, where the windows were blanched by GodÍs seal. Blood and milk flowed.

Beavers built. "Mazagrans" smoked in the little bars.

In the big glass house, still dripping, children in mourning looked at the marvelous pictures.

A door banged; and in the village square the little boy waved his arms, understood by the weather vanes and cocks on steeples everywhere, in the bursting shower.

Madame installed a piano in the Alps. Mass and first communions were celebrated at the hundred thousand altars of the cathedral.

Caravans set out. And Hotel Splendid was built in the chaos of ice and of the polar night.

Ever after the moon heard jackals howling across the deserts of thyme, and ecologues in wooden shoes growling in the orchard. Then in the violet and budding forest, Eucharis told me it was spring.

Gush, pond, --Foam, roll on the bridge and over the woods; --black palls and organs, lightning and thunder, rise and roll; --waters and sorrows rise and launch the Floods again.

For since they have been dissipated--oh! the precious stones being buried and the opened flowers! --it's unbearable! and the Queen, the Witch who lights her fire in the earthen pot will never tell us what she knows, and what we do not know.

[Rimbaud, ILLUMINATIONS and Other Prose Poems, Translated by Louise Varèse, Revised Edition, A New Directions Paperbook, 1957.]



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