- Arthur Rimbaud’s brief career.
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- Arthur Rimbaud
One of the most written-about literary figures in the past decade, Arthur Rimbaud left few traces when he abandoned poetry at age twenty-one and disappeared into the African desert. Until now. But whether soapboxing on the essence of art, or struggling under the yoke of self-imposed exile in the desert of his later years, Rimbaud was incapable of writing an uninteresting sentence. As translator and editor Wyatt Mason makes clear in his engaging Introduction, the letters reveal a Rimbaud very different from our expectations.
Arthur Rimbaud’s brief career.
T DlR I I ADFN l l I Izambard became Rimbaud's literary mentor and soon a close accord formed between professor and student and Rimbaud for a short time saw Izambard as a kind of older brother figure. He ran away to Paris with no money for his ticket and was subsequently arrested and imprisoned for a week. After returning home, Rimbaud ran away again to escape his mother's wrath. From late October , Rimbaud's behavior became outwardly provocative; he drank alcohol, spoke rudely, composed scatological poems, stole books from local shops, and abandoned his hitherto characteristically neat appearance by allowing his hair to grow long.
The sufferings are enormous, but one must be strong, be born a poet, and I have recognized myself as a poet.
Another poem, "Le coeur vole" "The Stolen Heart" , is often interpreted as a description of him being raped by drunken Communard soldiers, but this is unlikely since Rimbaud continued to support the Communards and wrote poems sympathetic to their aims. Etienne Carjat, Portrait of Rimbaud at the age of 17 , Rimbaud was encouraged by his friend, office employee Charles Auguste Bretagne, to write to Paul Verlaine , an eminent Symbolist poet, after letters to other poets failed to garner replies. Verlaine, who was intrigued by Rimbaud, sent a reply that stated, "Come, dear great soul.
Mason ARTHUR RIMBAUD I Promise To Be Good Letters Vol. 2 Modern Library 1st | eBay
We await you; we desire you" along with a one-way ticket to Paris. In later published recollections of his first sight of Rimbaud, Verlaine described him at the age of seventeen as having "the real head of a child, chubby and fresh, on a big, bony rather clumsy body of a still-growing adolescent, and whose voice, with a very strong Ardennes accent, that was almost a dialect, had highs and lows as if it were breaking.
Rimbaud and Verlaine began a short and torrid affair. Whereas Verlaine had likely engaged in prior homosexual experiences, it remains uncertain whether the relationship with Verlaine was Rimbaud's first. During their time together they led a wild, vagabond-like life spiced by absinthe and hashish. The stormy relationship between Rimbaud and Verlaine eventually brought them to London in September ,  a period about which Rimbaud would later express regret. During this time, Verlaine abandoned his wife and infant son both of whom he had abused in his alcoholic rages.
Rimbaud and Verlaine lived in considerable poverty, in Bloomsbury and in Camden Town , scraping a living mostly from teaching, in addition to an allowance from Verlaine's mother. By late June , Verlaine grew frustrated with the relationship and returned to Paris, where he quickly began to mourn Rimbaud's absence.
Rimbaud dismissed the wound as superficial, and did not initially seek to file charges against Verlaine. But shortly after the shooting, Verlaine and his mother accompanied Rimbaud to a Brussels railway station, where Verlaine "behaved as if he were insane.enter site
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In his words, "it was then I [Rimbaud] begged a police officer to arrest him [Verlaine]. In he returned to London with the poet Germain Nouveau  and put together his groundbreaking Illuminations. Rimbaud and Verlaine met for the last time in March , in Stuttgart , Germany, after Verlaine's release from prison and his conversion to Catholicism.
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Citation needed He continued to travel extensively in Europe, mostly on foot. In May he enlisted as a soldier in the Dutch Colonial Army  to travel free of charge to Java in the Dutch East Indies now Indonesia where he promptly deserted, returning to France by ship. In December , Rimbaud arrived in Larnaca , Cyprus , where he worked for a construction company as a foreman at a stone quarry. In Rimbaud finally settled in Aden , Yemen as a main employee in the Bardey agency. Rimbaud's commercial dealings notably included coffee and weapons.
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Rimbaud's grave in Charleville. The inscription reads simply Priez pour lui "Pray for him".
In February , Rimbaud developed what he initially thought was arthritis in his right knee. After a short stay at his family home in Charleville, he attempted to travel back to Africa, but on the way his health deteriorated and he was readmitted to the same hospital in Marseille where the amputation had been performed, and spent some time there in great pain, attended by his sister Isabelle. Rimbaud died in Marseille on 10 November , at the age of In May - before his first trip to Paris - Rimbaud wrote 2 letters commonly called the Lettres du voyant explaining his poetic philosophy.
The 1st was written May 13 to Izambard, in which Rimbaud explained:. Rimbaud said much the same in his 2d letter, often called the Lettre du voyant "Letter of the Seer".
Written May 15 to his friend Paul Demeny, the letter expounded his revolutionary theories about poetry and life, while also denouncing most poets that preceded him. Wishing for new poetic forms and ideas, he wrote:. Rimbaud expounded the same ideas in his poem, "Le bateau ivre" " The Drunken Boat ". This hundred-line poem tells the tale of a boat that breaks free of human society when its handlers are killed by "Redskins" Peaux-Rouges.
At first thinking that it drifts where it pleases, it soon realizes that it is being guided by and to the "poem of the sea". It ends floating and washed clean, wishing only to sink and become 1 with the sea. Archibald MacLeish has commented on this poem: "Anyone who doubts that poetry can say what prose cannot has only to read the so-called Lettres du Voyant and 'Bateau Ivre' together. What is pretentious and adolescent in the Lettres is true in the poem — unanswerably true.