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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Poetic genius of youth

“Genius is the recovery of childhood at will.” – Arthur Rimbaud

A French poet known for his contributions to symbolism and influence on modern literature and arts, Rimbaud was born on this date in 1854.  He started writing at a very young age, abandoned his formal education in his teenage years to run away and join the army during the Franco-Prussian War, and wrote voraciously in his late teens and early 20s before abruptly ending his writing career.  Becoming a merchant, he traveled and traded extensively on 3 continents before a premature death from cancer at age 37.       

His poetry influenced the Symbolists, Dadaists and Surrealists, and later writers adopted some of his themes and his inventive use of form and language.  For Saturday’s Poem, here is Rimbaud’s,

I have kissed the summer dawn. Before the palaces, nothing moved. The water lay dead. Battalions of shadows still kept the forest road.

I walked, walking warm and vital breath, While stones watched, and wings rose soundlessly.

My first adventure, in a path already gleaming With a clear pale light, Was a flower who told me its name.

I laughed at the blond Wasserfall That threw its hair across the pines: On the silvered summit, I came upon the goddess.

Then one by one, I lifted her veils. In the long walk, Waving my arms.

Across the meadow, where I betrayed her to the cock. In the heart of town she fled among the steeples and domes, And I hunted her, scrambling like a beggar on marble wharves.

Above the road, near a thicket of laurel, I caught her in her gathered veils, And smelled the scent of her immense body. Dawn and the child fell together at the bottom of the wood.

When I awoke, it was noon.

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