Edmund White on the French 19th-century poet, Arthur Rimbaud | Books | The Guardian
Like Rimbaud, Verlaine had been a brilliant student in classical languages for Art's Sake - that "the goal of poetry is the Beautiful and the Beautiful alone . Something of the tenor of their relationship can be deduced from. Rimbaud's difficult relationship with his authoritarian mother is reflected in many of his A homosexual relationship developed between Rimbaud and Verlaine. Arthur Rimbaud's brief career. The combination of adolescent rebellion and poetic precocity yielded, in May, , a grand statement of artistic purpose. inevitably led to his eviction—he broke up Verlaine's marriage.
His life as a poet was a short one, however, as he soon gave up writing and began wandering the world before settling into arms and coffee dealing in Africa.
He died in France from cancer, aged During the short time he spent as a writer Rimbaud produced three major works: Two qualities that mark almost all aspects of these works are youthful passion and aggression. In addition, Rimbaud's writing is also rich in symbolism and metaphor, so skilfully applied that many a poet still adopts his techniques.
Another feature of his work is a gleeful arrogance worthy of his young age. I am an inventor more deserving far than all those who have preceded me; a musician, moreover, who has discovered something like the key of love. The preceding quote comes from Lives, in Illuminations, but dozens more along these lines can be found throughout his poetry, for Rimbaud is constantly holding himself up as ideal artist who understands far more than any of the mortals by whom he's surrounded.Rimbaud-Verlaine -- DiCaprio
Beyond the vigour of these traits, however, Rimbaud's poetry begins to falter - for beneath his passion, technical acumen, and self-confidence there is not only precious little enlightenment with regard to the human condition, but only marginal glimpses of concrete subject matter. Though Rimbaud's work tells the story of his often-fascinating life, it does so in a manner that creates a portrait of the poet as an ideal rather than a flesh-and-blood human being.
In other words, his poetry exists as much as a theoretical exercise as an exploration of a living inner world. In the end what is left is a great deal of artful howling, awash with theatrical flourishes and exclamation marks, which betray Rimbaud's youth as it immortalises it - and it is here that the problem lies. He was proud of the lice infesting his long mane and even pretended he was encouraging the vermin to jump on to passers-by.
Verlaine was delighted with Rimbaud's antisocial antics, which recalled to him his own younger excesses before his marriage. A most daring poet not yet 18 was introduced by Paul Verlaine, his inventor and in fact his John the Baptist. Big hands, big feet, a wholly babyish face like a child of 13, deep blue eyes! Such is this boy, whose character is more antisocial than timid and whose imagination combines great powers with unheard-of corruption and who has fascinated and terrified all our friends.
In fact, these poets would soon form the core group of the Decadents a "school" that took its name from a line by Verlaine: Valade concluded by calling Rimbaud "Satan in the midst of the doctors", as opposed to Christ among the rabbis at the temple. When one of the Goncourt brothers shook Rimbaud's hand, he claimed he felt as if he were touching the most notorious murderer of the day.
His first night in Banville's maid's room, he stood in the illuminated window stark naked and threw down his lice-laden clothes into the street. Within a week Banville had asked the miscreant to leave, but only after Rimbaud had smashed the china in his room, soiled the bed sheets with his muddy boots and sold some of the furniture. Within a few short weeks after his arrival he was no longer being described as an angel or a devil but as an obnoxious boor.
The only person who couldn't see his faults - or who delighted in them - was Verlaine. In the 14 months since he'd married, Verlaine had written no new poetry, though he had successfully curbed the excesses of his drinking. Now Rimbaud was encouraging him to live like a savage and stay drunk - and to write like the seer he was destined to be.
Moreover, Rimbaud represented Verlaine's sexual ideal, a dominant adolescent who appeared to be always available erotically.
Rimbaud and Verlaine Foundation - Wikipedia
Soon enough Verlaine had given up his respectable clothes and returned to his slouch hat and dirty muffler, and although he and Rimbaud lived like beggars and Rimbaud was constantly being moved from one guest room to another, together the two managed to spend considerable sums of money.
Rimbaud was so belligerent that the two lovers found their circle shrinking - especially since they made no secret of their "vice". They collaborated on a sonnet celebrating the asshole "Sonnet du trou du cul" - Verlaine wrote the first eight lines and Rimbaud the last six.
Rimbaud became still more difficult in November, when, according to a childhood friend, he tried hashish for the first time. Between hash and absinthe he was well under way in his long, immense and systematic disordering of all the senses, a project he was deliberately cultivating in the name of art.
On 21 OctoberVerlaine's son Georges was born. The birth seemed only to enrage Verlaine all the more. Mathilde later claimed that Verlaine threatened her life every day between October and January One day in January, after Mathilde refused to give Verlaine money for drink, he seized the three-month-old Georges and flung him against the wall.
And then he started to choke his wife. Until now, Mathilde had been successfully concealing her husband's brutality from her parents, even though they were all living under the same roof.
But now they could see for themselves the marks on their daughter's throat and, in a flood of tears, she confessed all the horrors visited on her since Rimbaud's arrival four months earlier. Verlaine decided he needed time to salvage his marriage. He begged Rimbaud to leave town and return to his mother in the Ardennes.
Rimbaud saw himself as an archangel descended to earth to liberate Verlaine from his bourgeois temptations as a human being and the tendencies towards prettiness in his poetry. It was Rimbaud who made Verlaine reread the technically brilliant poems of Musset and Leconte de Lisle. It was Rimbaud who convinced him to write in syllable lines instead of the flowing, automatically eloquent 12 syllables of French tradition or the eight syllables of ballads.
And it was Rimbaud who tried to banish human anecdotes, realistic sketches and sentimental portraits from Verlaine's work. Something of the tenor of their relationship can be deduced from "Vagabonds", one of the prose poems included in Illuminations.
The passion of Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine
In it, Verlaine, "the pitiful brother" but a paragraph later "the satanic doctor"complains that Rimbaud's peculiar blend of bad luck and innocence has isolated them and led them into poverty and exile.
The "poor brother", with his mouth rotten and his eyes starting out of his head, wakes up every night shouting reproaches - his "dream of idiotic grief" - which prompts the offended, misunderstood Rimbaud to think: It undoubtedly had to do with a utopian future that would exclude the deadening effects of conventionality and would usher in a whole new era of love.
Again and again he refers to "the new harmony", "the new love" and "the new men". He calls for a "departure" towards "the new affection". Historically, we have entered an era, Rimbaud tells us, that is one of both murderous and pitiless assassins, and of hashish-smokers - le temps des Assassins. The original "assassins" were a fierce Muslim band of hashish-smokers and bandits who flourished from the eighth to the 14th centuries.
- Navigation menu
- From genius verses to shootings from a gun
Rimbaud could certainly be as pitiless as a real assassin. He once had Verlaine play a "game" in which Verlaine would stretch out his hand on the table and Rimbaud would stab at his spread fingers.
Verlaine thought the point of the game was to show that he wouldn't flinch, that he trusted Rimbaud. But Rimbaud quite simply stabbed him in the wrist. By the beginning of Marchjust six months after his arrival in Paris and into Verlaine's life, Rimbaud was heading home to his mother.
He knew that he would be back with the older man as soon as Verlaine had straightened out his marriage. Verlaine also knew that the retreat was only temporary. Eventually Mathilde returned to Paris with their son, and for a while everything seemed back on an even keel. Verlaine was even looking for a job again.