Wednesday, November 7, 2007
STARGAZING TOM THUMB
Arthur Rimbaud (French poet, 1854-91) dazzled the Paris literary world as a boy, yet quit writing poems when he was still a teenager. He has been idolized in dozens of biographies as a poet, surrealist, symbolist, criminal, prophet, and gun runner, and has the unique distinction of both being played by Leonardo DiCaprio in a Hollywood film, and being written into a song by Bob Dylan. Victor Hugo championed him ("Enfant Shakespeare!") and Paul Verlaine shot him. Rimbaud was the essential rebel, the poete maudite, an anarchist who smoked hashish, drank absinthe, and shocked the local bourgeoisie with his shabby dress and long hair. More important, he wrote such masterpieces as Illuminations and Une Saison en Enfer -- "A Season in Hell" -- and influenced the course of modern literature, music, and art.
He died November 10th, so raise a glass for him. Something strong.
My Bohemian Life (Fantasy)
I went off with my hands in my torn coat pockets;
My overcoat too was becoming ideal;
I traveled beneath the sky, Muse! and I was your vassal;
Oh dear me! what marvelous loves I dreamed of!
My only pair of breeches had a big hole in them.
– Stargazing Tom Thumb, I sowed rhymes along my way.
My tavern was at the Sign of the Great Bear.
– My stars in the sky rustled softly.
And I listened to them, sitting on the road-sides
On those pleasant September evenings while I felt drops
Of dew on my forehead like vigorous wine;
And while, rhyming among the fantastical shadows,
I plucked like the strings of a lyre the elastics
Of my tattered boots, one foot close to my heart!