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.)~ An American Childhood (a.k.a. my very favorite work of nonfiction)
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?