20 October 2005


(from "The Drunken Boat")

I long for Europe with its aged old parapets!

I have seen archipelagos of stars! and islands
Whose delirious skies are open to sailor:
- Do you sleep, are you exiled in those bottomless nights,
Million golden birds, O Life Force of the future? -

But, truly, I have wept too much! The Dawns are heartbreaking.
Every moon is atrocious and every sun bitter:
Sharp love has swollen me up with heady langours.
O let my keel split! O let me sink to the bottom!

If there is one water in Europe I want, it is the
Black cold pool where into the scented twilight
A child squatting full of sadness, launches
A boat as fragile as a butterfly in May.

~ Arthur Rimbaud, born on this day in 1854

(I was also born today, in 1977. It isn't age or even time that makes me despise birthdays so much. It's the intensification of a lifetime's worth of disappointment concentrated on one particular day of the year. I'm hoping that one of these days it won't matter so much. Thick clouds hover over the slate-grey sea and I am fiercely glad.)

Annie Dillard remembers,
I loved Rimbaud, who ran away, loved his skinny, furious face with the wild hair and snaky, unseeing eyes pointing in two directions, and his poems' confusion and vagueness, their overwritten longing, their hatred, their sky-shot lyricism, and their oracular fragmentation, which I enhanced for myself by reading and retaining his stuff in crazed bits, mostly from Le Bateau Ivre, The Drunken Boat. (The drunken boat tells its own story, a downhill, downstream epic unusually full of words.)

Now in study hall I saw that I had drawn all over this page; I got out another piece of paper. Rimbaud was damned. He said so himself. Where could I meet someone like that?
~ An American Childhood (a.k.a. my very favorite work of nonfiction)


jamin said...

Happy Birthday!

amcorrea said...

That's very kind--esp. after I go off on a French-symbolist spiel. Thanks!

jamin said...

No problem. If you had been quoting the Romantic poets, I might not have bothered. But I figured that a talented writer who is enduring a lifetime of disappointment in a single day deserved a kind word. My 28th birthday is fast approaching and I expect I'll also be hoping for thick grey clouds. Somehow it feels like a mockery when my heart and mind are stormy but the sky is calm and bright. Unfortunately I don't live near the sea so I'll have to settle for watching those clouds roll across the muddy Mississippi in all its filthy glory.

tinuvielf said...

I check in... and it's a Dillard fest. I'd forgotten that bit about Rimbaud from AAC. Must revisit. Forever drawing all over pages. I wish I could say I've even looked at my blank ones. But it's a little motivating... "...launches a boat as fragile as..." reminds me of that bit from The Writing Life, "Shall we go rowing again, we who believe we may indeed row off the edge and fall? Shall we launch again into the deep and row up the skies?" Arguably the most poignant bit of poetry I've ever read. Shall we...

Chelsey said...

Despised or not, happy birthday. :)