Saturday, June 20, 2009

Arthur Rimbaud (2)

Arthur Rimbaud was now living in Harar, the legendary Abyssinian walled city, since November 1880. The poet had died together with the last verse of "Une Saison en Enfer" in 1873 or 4. Who was that poet? And who was the child before the poet? "Once, if I remembered well, my life was a banquet where all hearts opened, all wines flowed..."

It was surely somebody else. For Arthur Rimbaud had completed his transformation into "The Other". And as "The Other", he lived through his own Heart of Darkness in Africa and he so readily assumed the role of Kurz. But it was only when he returned to Charleville, back to mother dearest, a cripple and having fought the law and lost, that he became a man who in the words of Charles Baudelaire " a senti l'horrible fardeau du Temps qui brise ses épaules et le penche vers la terre..."

Actually, Rimbaud's sister, Isabelle, was wrong when she insisted that his last words, on his death bed at the hospital in Marseilles, were a confession. He actually whispered to her in perfect english: " The horror! The horror!" and became immortal.

Listen to :


  1. I was working up a poem. Thought about Rimbaud in Africa. Then "Mistah Kurtz he dead" arrived. Traced it to The Hollow Men. Tried to recall Rimbaud's last words. By one account in a recent biography whose author I have forgotten he was determined to take ship for Africa and was repeating the name of the ship, an Arabic word meaning Lightship. Google led me to you and full circle. "Mistah Rimbaud he dead". Check out The poem with the "ship of light" in it will be up next. Love your site.

  2. Thank you very much for your comment Roger. Keep up the good work!

  3. Check this on Rimb
    and my comment for a new insight on Rimbaud's last words.The critic I mentioned appears to have been wrong about the meaning in Arabic of the ship's name. The poem is up on the blog.