BOOK DETAILS

Rimbaud: Complete Works, Selected Letters, a Bilingual Edition

Rimbaud: Complete Works, Selected Letters, a Bilingual Edition

by Jean Nicholas Arthur Rimbaud

ISBN: 9780226719771

Publisher University of Chicago Press

Published in Literature & Fiction/Poetry

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Sample Chapter

Poesies/Poetry

1869/1869

Les etrennes des orphelins

I

La chambre est pleine d'ombre; on entend vaguement De deux enfants le triste et doux chuchotement. Leur front se penche, encor, alourdi par le reve, Sous le long rideau blanc qui tremble et se souleve ... -Au dehors les oiseaux se rapprochent frileux; Leur aile s'engourdit sous le ton gris des cieux; Et la nouvelle Annee, a la suite brumeuse, Laissant trainer les plis de sa robe neigeuse, Sourit avec des pleurs, et chante en grelottant ...

II

Or les petits enfants, sous le rideau flottant, Parlent bas comme on fait dans une nuit obscure. Ils ecoutent, pensifs, comme un lointain murmure ... Ils tressaillent souvent a la claire voix d'or Du timbre matinal, qui frappe et frappe encor Son refrain metallique en son globe de verre ... -Puis, la chambre est glacee ... on voit trainer a terre, Epars autour des lits, des vetements de deuil: L'apre bise d'hiver qui se lamente au seuil Souffle dans le logis son haleine morose! On sent, dans tout cela, qu'il manque quelque chose ... -Il n'est donc point de mere a ces petits enfants, De mere au frais sourire, aux regards triomphants? Elle a donc oublie, le soir, seule et penchee, D'exciter une flamme a la cendre arrachee, D'amonceler sur eux la laine et l'edredon Avant de les quitter en leur criant: pardon. Elle n'a point prevu la froideur matinale, Ni bien ferme le seuil a la bise hivernale? ... -Le reve maternel, c'est le tiede tapis, C'est le nid cotonneux ou les enfants tapis, Comme de beaux oiseaux que balancent les branches, Dorment leur doux sommeil plein de visions blanches! ... -Et la,-c'est comme un nid sans plumes, sans chaleur, Ou les petits ont froid, ne dorment pas, ont peur; Un nid que doit avoir glace la bise amere ...

III

Votre coeur l'a compris:-ces enfants sont sans mere. Plus de mere au logis!-et le pere est bien loin! ... -Une vieille servante, alors, en a pris soin. Les petits sont tout seuls en la maison glacee; Orphelins de quatre ans, voila qu'en leur pensee S'eveille, par degres, un souvenir riant ... C'est comme un chapelet qu'on egrene en priant: -Ah! quel beau matin, que ce matin des etrennes! Chacun, pendant la nuit, avait reve des siennes Dans quelque songe etrange ou l'on voyait joujoux, Bonbons habilles d'or, etincelants bijoux, Tourbillonner, danser une danse sonore, Puis fuir sous les rideaux, puis reparaitre encore! On s'eveillait matin, on se levait joyeux, La levre affriandee, en se frottant les yeux ... On allait, les cheveux emmeles sur la tete, Les yeux tout rayonnants, comme aux grands jours de fete, Et les petits pieds nus effleurant le plancher, Aux portes des parents tout doucement toucher ... On entrait! ... Puis alors les souhaits ... en chemise, Les baisers repetes, et la gaite permise!

IV

Ah! c'etait si charmant, ces mots dits tant de fois! -Mais comme il est change, le logis d'autrefois: Un grand feu petillait, clair, dans la cheminee, Toute la vieille chambre etait illuminee; Et les reflets vermeils, sortis du grand foyer, Sur les meubles vernis aimaient a tournoyer ... -L'armoire etait sans clefs! ... sans clefs, la grande armoire! On regardait souvent sa porte brune et noire ... Sans clefs! ... c'etait etrange! ... on revait bien des fois Aux mysteres dormant entre ses flancs de bois, Et l'on croyait ouir, au fond de la serrure Beante, un bruit lointain, vague et joyeux murmure ... -La chambre des parents est bien vide, aujourd'hui: Aucun reflet vermeil sous la porte n'a lui; Il n'est point de parents, de foyer, de clefs prises: Partant, point de baisers, point de douces surprises! Oh! que le jour de l'an sera triste pour eux! -Et, tout pensifs, tandis que de leurs grands yeux bleus Silencieusement tombe une larme amere, Ils murmurent: "Quand donc reviendra notre mere?"

V

Maintenant, les petits sommeillent tristement: Vous diriez, a les voir, qu'ils pleurent en dormant, Tant leurs yeux sont gonfles et leur souffle penible! Les tout petits enfants ont le coeur si sensible! -Mais l'ange des berceaux vient essuyer leurs yeux, Et dans ce lourd sommeil met un reve joyeux, Un reve si joyeux, que leur levre mi-close, Souriante, semblait murmurer quelque chose ... -Ils revent que, penches sur leur petit bras rond, Doux geste du reveil, ils avancent le front, Et leur vague regard tout autour d'eux se pose ... Ils se croient endormis dans un paradis rose ... Au foyer plein d'eclairs chante gaiment le feu ... Par la fenetre on voit la-bas un beau ciel bleu; La nature s'eveille et de rayons s'enivre ... La terre, demi-nue, heureuse de revivre, A des frissons de joie aux baisers du soleil ... Et dans le vieux logis tout est tiede et vermeil: Les sombres vetements ne jonchent plus la terre, La bise sous le seuil a fini par se taire ... On dirait qu'une fee a passe dans cela! ... -Les enfants, tout joyeux, ont jete deux cris ... La, Pres du lit maternel, sous un beau rayon rose, La, sur le grand tapis, resplendit quelque chose ... Ce sont des medaillons argentes, noirs et blancs, De la nacre et du jais aux reflets scintillants; Des petits cadres noirs, des couronnes de verre, Ayant trois mots graves en or: "A NOTRE MERE!"

The Orphans' Gifts (New Year's)

I

The room is full of darkness; indistinctly you hear The sad soft whispering of two children. Their heads lean down, still, heavy with dreams, Under the long white (bed) curtain which trembles and rises ... -Outside birds feeling the cold crowd together; Their wings are numbed under the grey color of the skies; And the New Year, with her train of fog, Dragging the folds of her snowy robe, Smiles through her tears, and, while shivering, sings ...

II

But the small children, under the swaying curtain, Speak in low voices as you do on a dark night. They listen thoughtfully as to a distant murmur ... Often they tremble at the clear golden voice Of the morning bell, which strikes again and again Its metallic refrain under its glass globe ... -Then, the room is icy ... you see lying on the floor, Scattered around the beds, mourning clothes: The bitter wind of winter moaning on the threshold Blows into the house its sad breath! You feel, in all this, that something is missing ... -Is there then no mother for these small children, No mother with a fresh smile and triumphant glances? So she forgot, in the evening, alone and leaning down, To kindle a flame saved from the ashes, And to pile over them the wool and the quilt Before leaving them, and calling out to them: forgive me! Did she not foresee the cold of the morning, Did she not close tightly the door on the winter wind? ... -A mother's dream is the warm blanket, The downy nest where children, huddled Like beautiful birds rocked by the branches, Sleep their sweet sleep full of white visions! ... -And here-it is like a nest without feathers, without warmth, Where the children are cold and do not sleep and are afraid; A nest the bitter wind must have frozen ...

III

Your heart has understood:-these children are motherless. No mother in the home!-and the father far away! ... -An old servant, then, has taken care of them. The little ones are all alone in the icy house; Four-year-old orphans in whose thoughts now A smiling memory awakens gradually ... It is like a rosary you tell as you pray: -Ah! what a beautiful morning, this New Year's morning! During the night each had dreamt of his dear ones In some strange dream when you saw toys, Candies dressed in gold, sparkling jewels, Whirling and dancing a sonorous dance, Then disappearing under curtains, and reappearing! You awoke in the morning, you got up in a joyous mood, Your mouth watering, rubbing your eyes ... You went, your hair tangled on your head, Your eyes shining as on holidays, And your little bare feet grazing the floor, Softly touching your parents' doors ... You went in! ... And then the good wishes ... in your nightshirt, The flood of kisses, and gaiety allowed!

IV

Ah! it was so charming, those words spoken so often! -But how it has changed, the home we once had: A big fire crackled brightly in the fireplace, The old room was all aglow; And the red reflections, coming from the big hearth, Like to play over the varnished furniture ... -The cupboard had no keys! ... no keys in the big cupboard! You often looked at its dark black door ... No keys! ... it was strange! ... You often wondered About the mysteries sleeping in its wooden sides, And you thought you could hear, from the depths of the gaping Keyhole, a distant noise, a vague joyful murmur ... -The parents' room is empty today: No red reflection shone under the door; There are no parents, no hearth, no stolen keys: And therefore no kisses, no sweet surprises! Ah! how sad New Year's Day will be for them! -And pensively, while from their big blue eyes A bitter tear silently drops, They murmur: "When will our mother return?"

V

Now the children are sleeping sadly: On seeing them you would say they are crying in their sleep, So swollen are their eyes and so painful their breathing! Small children have such sensitive hearts! -But the angel of cradles comes to wipe their eyes, And into their heavy sleep puts a happy dream, So happy a dream that their half-closed lips, Smiling, seem to murmur something ... -They dream that, leaning on their small round arms, In the sweet gesture of waking up, they raise their heads, And peer around them ... They think they fell asleep in a rose-colored paradise ... In the bright hearth, the fire merrily sings ... Through the window a beautiful blue sky is visible over yonder; Nature awakens and is drunk with the rays of light ... The earth, half-bare, happy to come alive again, Stirs with joy under the kisses of the sun ... And in the old house everything is warm and red: The black clothes are no longer spread over the floor, The wind has at last quieted down under the door ... You could say that a fairy had passed through the scene! ... -The children, very happy, uttered two cries ... Here, Near the mother's bed, under a beautiful rose-colored ray, Here, on the big rug, something shines ... They are silver medallions, black and white, Mother-of-pearl and jet with glittering lights; Small black frames, glass wreaths, With three words engraved in gold: "TO OUR MOTHER!"

1870/1870

Sensation

Par les soirs bleus d'ete, j'irai dans les sentiers, Picote par les bles, fouler l'herbe menue: Reveur, j'en sentirai la fraicheur a mes pieds. Je laisserai le vent baigner ma tete nue.

Je ne parlerai pas, je ne penserai rien: Mais l'amour infini me montera dans l'ame, Et j'irai loin, bien loin, comme un bohemien, Par la Nature-heureux comme avec une femme.

Sensation

In the blue summer evenings, I will go along the paths, And walk over the short grass, as I am pricked by the wheat: Daydreaming I will feel the coolness on my feet. I will let the wind bathe my bare head.

I will not speak, I will have no thoughts: But infinite love will mount in my soul; And I will go far, far off, like a gypsy, Through the countryside-joyous as if with a woman.

Soleil et chair

I

Le Soleil, le foyer de tendresse et de vie, Verse l'amour brulant a la terre ravie, Et, quand on est couche sur la vallee, on sent Que la terre est nubile et deborde de sang; Que son immense sein, souleve par une ame, Est d'amour comme dieu, de chair comme la femme, Et qu'il renferme, gros de seve et de rayons, Le grand fourmillement de tous les embryons!

Et tout croit, et tout monte!

-O Venus, o Deesse! Je regrette les temps de l'antique jeunesse, Des satyres lascifs, des faunes animaux, Dieux qui mordaient d'amour l'ecorce des rameaux Et dans les nenufars baisaient la Nymphe blonde! Je regrette les temps ou la seve du monde, L'eau du fleuve, le sang rose des arbres verts Dans les veines de Pan mettaient un univers! Ou le sol palpitait, vert, sous ses pieds de chevre; Ou, baisant mollement le clair syrinx, sa levre Modulait sous le ciel le grand hymne d'amour; Ou, debout sur la plaine, il entendait autour Repondre a son appel la Nature vivante; Ou les arbres muets, bercant l'oiseau qui chante, La terre bercant l'homme, et tout l'Ocean bleu Et tous les animaux aimaient, aimaient en Dieu!

Je regrette les temps de la grande Cybele Qu'on disait parcourir, gigantesquement belle, Sur un grand char d'airain, les splendides cites; Son double sein versait dans les immensites Le pur ruissellement de la vie infinie. L'Homme sucait, heureux, sa mamelle benie, Comme un petit enfant, jouant sur ses genoux. -Parce qu'il etait fort, l'Homme etait chaste et doux.

Misere! Maintenant il dit: Je sais les choses, Et va, les yeux fermes et les oreilles closes: -Et pourtant, plus de dieux! plus de dieux! l'Homme est Roi, L'Homme est Dieu! Mais l'Amour, voila la grande Foi! Oh! si l'homme puisait encore a ta mamelle, Grande mere des dieux et des hommes, Cybele; S'il n'avait pas laisse l'immortelle Astarte Qui jadis, emergeant dans l'immense clarte Des flots bleus, fleur de chair que la vague parfume, Montra son nombril rose ou vint neiger l'ecume, Et fit chanter, Deesse aux grands yeux noirs vainqueurs, Le rossignol aux bois et l'amour dans les coeurs!

II

Je crois en toi! je crois en toi! Divine mere, Aphrodite marine!-Oh! la route est amere Depuis que l'autre Dieu nous attelle a sa croix; Chair, Marbre, Fleur, Venus, c'est en toi que je crois! -Oui l'Homme est triste et laid, triste sous le ciel vaste, Il a des vetements, parce qu'il n'est plus chaste, Parce qu'il a sali son fier buste de dieu, Et qu'il a rabougri, comme une idole au feu, Son corps Olympien aux servitudes sales! Oui, meme apres la mort, dans les squelettes pales Il veut vivre, insultant la premiere beaute! -Et l'Idole ou tu mis tant de virginite, Ou tu divinisas notre argile, la Femme, Afin que l'Homme put eclairer sa pauvre ame Et monter lentement, dans un immense amour, De la prison terrestre a la beaute du jour, La Femme ne sait plus meme etre Courtisane! -C'est une bonne farce! et le monde ricane Au nom doux et sacre de la grande Venus!

III

Si les temps revenaient, les temps qui sont venus! -Car l'Homme a fini! l'Homme a joue tous les roles! Au grand jour, fatigue de briser des idoles Il ressuscitera, libre de tous ses Dieux, Et, comme il est du ciel, il scrutera les cieux! L'Ideal, la pensee invincible, eternelle, Tout le dieu qui vit, sous son argile charnelle, Montera, montera, brulera sous son front! Et quand tu le verras sonder tout l'horizon, Contempteur des vieux jougs, libre de toute crainte, Tu viendras lui donner la Redemption sainte! -Splendide, radieuse, au sein des grandes mers Tu surgiras, jetant sur le vaste Univers L'Amour infini dans un infini sourire! Le Monde vibrera comme une immense lyre Dans le fremissement d'un immense baiser:

-Le Monde a soif d'amour: tu viendras l'apaiser.

* * *

(O! l'Homme a releve sa tete libre et fiere! Et le rayon soudain de la beaute premiere Fait palpiter le dieu dans l'autel de la chair! Heureux du bien present, pale du mal souffert, L'Homme veut tout sonder,-et savoir! La Pensee, La cavale longtemps, si longtemps oppressee S'elance de son front! Elle saura Pourquoi! ... Qu'elle bondisse libre, et l'Homme aura la Foi!

-Pourquoi l'azur muet et l'espace insondable? Pourquoi les astres d'or fourmillant comme un sable? Si l'on montait toujours, que verrait-on la-haut? Un Pasteur mene-t-il cet immense troupeau De mondes cheminant dans l'horreur de l'espace? Et tous ces mondes-la, que l'ether vaste embrasse, Vibrent-ils aux accents d'une eternelle voix? -Et l'Homme, peut-il voir? peut-il dire: je crois? La voix de la pensee est-elle plus qu'un reve? Si l'homme nait si tot, si la vie est si breve, D'ou vient-il? Sombre-t-il dans l'Ocean profond Des Germes, des Foetus, des Embryons, au fond De l'immense Creuset d'ou la Mere-Nature Le ressuscitera, vivante creature, Pour aimer dans la rose, et croitre dans les bles? ...

Nous ne pouvons savoir!-Nous sommes accables D'un manteau d'ignorance et d'etroites chimeres! Singes d'hommes tombes de la vulve des meres, Notre pale raison nous cache l'infini! Nous voulons regarder:-le Doute nous punit! Le doute, morne oiseau, nous frappe de son aile ... -Et l'horizon s'enfuit d'une fuite eternelle! ...

* * *

Le grand ciel est ouvert! les mysteres sont morts Devant l'Homme, debout, qui croise ses bras forts Dans l'immense splendeur de la riche nature! Il chante ... et le bois chante, et le fleuve murmure Un chant plein de bonheur qui monte vers le jour! ... -C'est la Redemption! c'est l'amour! c'est l'amour! ...)

* * *

IV

O splendeur de la chair! o splendeur ideale! O renouveau d'amour, aurore triomphale Ou, courbant a leurs pieds les Dieux et les Heros Kallipige la blanche et le petit Eros Effleureront, couverts de la neige des roses, Les femmes et les fleurs sous leurs beaux pieds ecloses!

-O grande Ariadne, qui jettes tes sanglots Sur la rive, en voyant fuir la-bas sur les flots Blanche sous le soleil, la voile de Thesee, O douce vierge enfant qu'une nuit a brisee, Tais-toi! Sur son char d'or brode de noirs raisins, Lysios, promene dans les champs Phrygiens Par les tigres lascifs et les pantheres rousses, Le long des fleuves bleus rougit les sombres mousses. Zeus, Taureau, sur son cou berce comme une enfant Le corps nu d'Europe, qui jette son bras blanc Au cou nerveux du Dieu frissonnant dans la vague, Il tourne lentement vers elle son oeil vague; Elle, laisse trainer sa pale joue en fleur Au front de Zeus; ses yeux sont fermes; elle meurt Dans un divin baiser, et le flot qui murmure De son ecume d'or fleurit sa chevelure. -Entre le laurier rose et le lotus jaseur Glisse amoureusement le grand Cygne reveur Embrassant la Leda des blancheurs de son aile; -Et tandis que Cypris passe, etrangement belle, Et, cambrant les rondeurs splendides de ses reins, Etale fierement l'or de ses larges seins Et son ventre neigeux brode de mousse noire, -Heracles, le Dompteur, qui, comme d'une gloire, Fort, ceint son vaste corps de la peau du lion, S'avance, front terrible et doux, a l'horizon!

Par la lune d'ete vaguement eclairee, Debout, nue, et revant dans sa paleur doree Que tache le flot lourd de ses longs cheveux bleus, Dans la clairiere sombre ou la mousse s'etoile, La Dryade regarde au ciel silencieux ... -La blanche Selene laisse flotter son voile, Craintive, sur les pieds du bel Endymion, Et lui jette un baiser dans un pale rayon ... -La Source pleure au loin dans une longue extase ... C'est la Nymphe qui reve, un coude sur son vase, Au beau jeune homme blanc que son onde a presse. -Une brise d'amour dans la nuit a passe, Et, dans les bois sacres, dans l'horreur des grands arbres, Majestueusement debout, les sombres Marbres, Les Dieux, au front desquels le Bouvreuil fait son nid, -Les Dieux ecoutent l'Homme et le Monde infini!

Sun and Flesh

I

The Sun, hearth of tenderness and life, Pours burning love over the delighted earth, And, when one lies down in the valley, one smells How the earth is nubile and rich in blood; How its huge breast, raised by a soul, Is made of love, like god, and of flesh, like woman, And how it contains, big with sap and rays of light, The vast swarming of all embryos!

And everything grows, and everything rises!

-O Venus, O Goddess! I miss the days of ancient youth, Of lascivious satyrs, of animal fauns, Gods who bit, because of love, the bark of boughs And in the midst of water lilies kissed the blond Nymph! I miss the time when the world's sap, The river's water, and the rose blood of green trees Put a universe into the veins of Pan! When the earth trembled, green, under his goatfeet; When, softly kissing the fair Syrinx, his lips Formed under heaven the great hymn of love; When, standing on the plain, he heard about him Living Nature answer his call; When the mute trees, cradling the singing bird, The earth cradling man, and the entire blue Ocean And all animals loved, loved in God!

I miss the time of great Cybele Who was said to traverse, gigantically beautiful, In a great bronze chariot, magnificent cities; Her two breasts poured into the immense depths The pure stream of infinite life. Man sucked joyfully at her blessed nipple, Like a small child playing on her knees. -Because he was strong, Man was chaste and gentle.

Woe! Now he says: I comprehend things, And goes off, with eyes closed and ears closed: -And yet, no more gods! no more gods! Man is King, Man is God! But Love is the great Faith! Oh! if man still drew strength from your nipple, Great mother of gods and men, Cybele; If only he had not abandoned immortal Astarte Who, once, emerging in the immense light Of blue waves, flower-flesh the wave perfumes, Showed her rose-colored navel where the foam came snowing, And-a Goddess with great conquering black eyes-made the nightingale Sing in the woods and love in the hearts!

II

I believe in you! I believe in you! Divine mother, Aphrodite of the sea!-Oh! the way is bitter Since the other God harnessed us to his cross; Flesh, Marble, Flower, Venus, I believe in you! -Yes, Man is sad and ugly, sad under the vast sky. He has clothes because he is no longer chaste, Because he has defiled his proud head of a god, And bent down, like an idol in the fire, His Olympian body to base serfdom! Yes, even after death, in pale skeletons He wishes to live, insulting the original beauty! -And the Idol in whom you placed such virginity, In whom you made our clay divine, Woman, So that Man might illuminate his poor soul And slowly rise, in boundless love, From the prison of earth to the beauty of day, Woman no longer knows even how to be a Courtesan! -It's a good joke! and the world jeers At the sweet and sacred name of great Venus!

III

If the times which have passed came back! -For Man is finished! Man has played all roles! By day, weary of smashing idols He will revive, free of all his gods, And, as he is of heaven, he will scan the skies! The Ideal, the invincible eternal thought, The whole god who lives, under his clay of flesh, Will rise, will rise, and burn under his brow! And when you see him sounding the whole horizon, A despiser of old yokes, free from all fear, You will come and give him holy Redemption! -Resplendent, radiant, from the bosom of vast oceans You will rise up, casting over the wide Universe Infinite Love in its infinite smile! The World will vibrate like an immense lyre In the trembling of an immense kiss:

-The World thirsts for love: you will come and slake its thirst.

* * *

(Oh! Man has raised his free proud head! And the sudden ray of original beauty Makes the god tremble in the altar of his flesh! Happy with the present good, pale from the ill suffered, Man wills to sound all depths-and know! Thought, A jade for so long, and oppressed for so long, Springs from his brow! She will know Why! ... Let her leap free, and Man will have Faith! -Why the silent sky and the unfathomable space? Why the golden stars swarming like sand? If one mounted forever, what would one see up there? Does a Shepherd drive that huge flock Of worlds journeying through the horror of space? And do all those worlds, embraced by the vast ether, Tremble at the sound of an eternal voice? -Can Man see? can he say: I believe? Is the voice of thought more than a dream? If man is born so soon, if life is so brief, Whence does he come? Does he sink into the deep Ocean Of Germs, of Foetuses, of Embryos, to the bottom Of the huge Crucible where Mother Nature Will revive him, a living creature, To love in the rose, and to grow in the wheat? ...

We cannot know!-We are weighed down Under a cloak of ignorance and narrow chimeras! Apes of men, fallen from our mothers' wombs, Our pale reason hides the infinite from us! We try to see:-and Doubt punishes us! Doubt, gloomy bird, strikes us with its wing ... -And the horizon rushes off in an eternal flight! ...

* * *

The great sky is open! the mysteries are dead Before erect Man crossing his strong arms In the vast splendor of rich nature! He sings ... and the wood sings, and the river murmurs A song full of joy which rises toward daylight! ... -It is Redemption! it is love! it is love! ...)

* * *

IV

O splendor of flesh! O ideal splendor! O renewal of love, triumphal dawn When, prostrating Gods and Heroes at their feet White Callipyge and little Eros, Covered with the snow of roses, Will lightly touch women and flowers full-blown under their beautiful feet!

-O great Ariadne, who pour your sobs Over the shore, as you see over there on the waves The white sail of Theseus flying under the sun; O sweet virgin child whom a night has crushed, Be silent! On his golden chariot embroidered with black grapes, Lysios, drawn through the Phrygian fields By lascivious tigers and russet panthers, Reddens the dark moss along the blue rivers. Zeus, the Bull, cradles on his neck like a child The naked body of Europa, who throws her white arm Around the God's tensed neck trembling in the wave, He slowly turns his vague eyes toward her; She, lets her pale flower cheek rest On the brow of Zeus; her eyes are closed; she dies In a divine kiss, and the murmuring wave Flowers her hair with its golden foam. -Between the oleander and the blatant lotus Glides amorously the great dreaming Swan Embracing Leda with the whiteness of his wing; -And while Cypris goes by, strangely beautiful, And, arching the splendid roundness of her back, Proudly displays the gold of her large breasts And snowy belly embroidered with black moss, -Hercules, the Tamer, who, as with a nimbus, Strongly girds his huge body in a lion skin, And appears on the horizon, his brow terrible and benign!

Vaguely lit by the summer moon, Erect, naked, and dreaming in her gilded pallor, Spotted by the heavy wave of her long blue hair, In the dark glade where the moss is starred, The Dryad looks up at the silent sky ... -White Selene, timid, lets her veil float Over the feet of handsome Endymion, And throws him a kiss in a pale ray ... -The Spring far off weeps in a long ecstasy ... It is the Nymph, one elbow on her urn, dreaming Of the handsome white youth her wave pressed against. -A light wind of love passed in the night, And in the sacred wood, in the horror of the great trees, Majestically erect, the dark Marbles, The Gods, on whose brows the Bullfinch makes its nest, -The Gods listen to Man and to the infinite World!

(Continues...)

Excerpted from "Rimbaud: Complete Works, Selected Letters, a Bilingual Edition" by Jean Nicholas Arthur Rimbaud. Copyright © 2005 by Jean Nicholas Arthur Rimbaud. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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