Nineteenth-century French Literature and Arts (especially painting and photography) have immensely shaped our modern sensitivity, and the list of French artists who anticipated what came next in the twentieth century is quite extensive: Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Stéphane Mallarmé, Aurore Dupin (aka George Sand), Gustave Flaubert, Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Étienne Carjat, Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (aka Nadar), and still many more…
But on top of all these magnificent artists, there is one who will always be on a pedestal for me: Arthur Rimbaud (Oct. 20th, 1854 – Nov. 10th, 1891). His rebelliousness, his particular way of seeing the world, his visceral search of freedom and spirituality beyond language and Western culture, his personal intuition of what Modernity and modern Art were turning into, and his extreme experimentation with words and images both inspired and encouraged me to take one of his verses for the title of this blog:
Moi qui tremblais, sentant geindre à cinquante lieues
Le rut des Béhémots et les Maelstroms épais,
Fileur éternel des immobilités bleues,
Je regrette l’Europe aux anciens parapets !
( who trembled, to feel at fifty leagues’ distance
The groans of Behemoth’s rutting, and of the dense Maelstroms
Eternal spinner of blue immobilities
I long for Europe with it’s aged old parapets!)
(From “Le bateau ivre” / “The Drunken Boat”
Today, the 159th anniversary of Rimbaud’s birth, I wanted this post to be a personal homage to a poet who has shaped both my personality and my sensitivy. The Poet is dead; long live the Poet!…
Par les soirs bleus d’été, j’irai dans les sentiers,
Picoté par les blés, fouler l’herbe menue :
Rêveur, j’en sentirai la fraîcheur à mes pieds.
Je laisserai le vent baigner ma tête nue.
Je ne parlerai pas, je ne penserai rien :
Mais l’amour infini me montera dans l’âme,
Et j’irai loin, bien loin, comme un bohémien,
Par la Nature, — heureux comme avec une femme.
On the blue summer evenings, I shall go down the paths,
Getting pricked by the corn, crushing the short grass:
In a dream I shall feel its coolness on my feet.
I shall let the wind bathe my bare head.
I shall not speak, I shall think about nothing:
But endless love will mount in my soul;
And I shall travel far, very far, like a gipsy,
Through the countryside – as happy as if I were with a woman.