Illuminations (New Directions Paperbook, No. 56)
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The definitive translation of the one of the brightest geniuses of French poetry.
The prose poems of the great French Symbolist, Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891), have acquired enormous prestige among readers everywhere and have been a revolutionary influence on poetry in the twentieth century. They are offered here both in their original texts and in superb English translations by Louise Varese. Mrs. Varese first published her versions of Rimbaud’s Illuminations in 1946. Since then she has revised her work and has included two poems which in the interim have been reclassified as part of Illuminations. This edition also contains two other series of prose poems, which include two poems only recently discovered in France, together with an introduction in which Miss Varese discusses the complicated ins and outs of Rimbaldien scholarship and the special qualities of Rimbaud’s writing. Rimbaud was indeed the most astonishing of French geniuses. Fired in childhood with an ambition to write, he gave up poetry before he was twenty-one. Yet he had already produced some of the finest examples of French verse. He is best known for A Season in Hell, but his other prose poems are no less remarkable. While he was working on them he spoke of his interest in hallucinations––"des vertiges, des silences, des nuits." These perceptions were caught by the poet in a beam of pellucid, and strangely active language which still lights up––now here, now there––unexplored aspects of experience and thought.
sans pleurs, notre active fille et servante, un Amour désespéré et un joli Crime piaulant dans la boue de la rue. CITY I am an ephemeral and a not too discontented citizen of a metropolis considered modern because all known taste has been evaded in the furnishings and the exterior of the houses as well as in the layout of the city. Here you would fail to detect the least trace of any monument of superstition. Morals and language are reduced to their simplest expression, at last! The way these
poitrail. BOTTOM Reality being too thorny for my great personality,—I found myself nevertheless at my lady’s, an enormous gray-blue bird soaring toward the moldings of the ceiling and trailing my wings through the shadows of the evening. At the foot of the canopy supporting her adored gems and her physical masterpieces, I was a great bear with violet gums, fur hoary with sorrow, eyes on the silver and crystal of the consoles. Everything became shadow and ardent aquarium. In the
torrent sous la ruine des bois, de la sonnerie des bestiaux à l’écho des vals, et des cris des steppes.— Pour l’enfance d’Hélène frissonnèrent les fourrures et les ombres, et le sein des pauvres, et les légendes du ciel, Et ses yeux et sa danse supérieurs encore aux éclats précieux, aux influences froides, au plaisir du décor et de l’heure uniques. FAIRY For Helen, in the virgin shadows and the impassive radiance in astral silence, ornamental saps conspired. Summer’s ardor was confided to
This poem appeared in the former New Directions edition as Part IV of Youth, a mistake which occurred in several Berrichon editions. It is written on a separate sheet of the manuscript. Gospel Moralities: The first two poems are taken from the fourth chapter of the Gospel of St. John, with reference to incidents in Chapter 2; and Beth-Saïda, from Chapter 5. There is a slight discrepancy between de Lacoste’s reading of the first poem and that of Jacques Gengoux in his Pensée Poétique de Rimbaud.
Ogaden where no European had penetrated previously. Verlaine publishes some of 180 Rimbaud’s poems in an article on him in Lutece (October, November; republished in 1884 in his Les Poètes maudits). 1884 Société de Géographie publishes Rimbaud’s report on the province of Ogaden, in February. In September Egypt evacuates Harar; and Rimbaud returns to Aden with, it is said, an Harari girl whom he sends back to Abyssinia in October, 1885. 1886 In October Rimbaud goes to Tajoura to engage in arms