Monday, May 23, 2011




I am an ephemeral and not at all dissatisfied citizen of a

metropolis thought to be modern because every known

taste has been avoided in the furnishings and exteriors

of its houses as well as in the plan of the city. Here you

would never point to the traces of any monument to

superstition. Morality and language are reduced to their

most basic expression, indeed! These millions of people

who feel no need to know one another experience such

similar kinds of education, occupation and old age, that

their life-spans must be several times shorter than those

which a mad statistic determines for the peoples of the

continent. Just as, from my window, I see new specters

rolling through the thick and eternal fumes of coal fires,

—our shadow of the woods, our summer's night! —

modern-day Furies, in front of my cottage which is my

country and all my heart since everything here resem-

bles this, —Death without tears, our active daughter and

servant, and a despairing Love, and a pretty Crime

whimpering in the mud of the street.


On the right, the summer dawn wakens the leaves and

vapors and sounds of this corner of the park, and the

embankments on the left hold within their purple shad-

ows the thousand rapid ruts of the damp road. Parade of

enchantments. Indeed: parade floats covered with gilded

wooden animals, masts and multicolored canvas back-

drops, drawn by twenty dappled circus horses at full gal-

lop, and children and men on the most amazing beasts;

—twenty vehicles, embossed, flag-draped and decked

with flowers like old-fashioned or fairy-tale coaches,

filled with children costumed for a suburban pastoral. —

Even coffins under their canopy of night brandishing

ebony plumes, fleeing to the sound of huge blue and

black mares' hooves.


In childhood, certain skies focused my seeing: all char-

acters modulated my features. Phenomena were set in

motion. —Now, the eternal inflection of moments and

the infinity of mathematics chase me across this world

where I undergo every civil success, respected by strange

childhood and abnormally large affections. —I dream of

a War of righteousness or force, whose logic will be quite


---It's as simple as a musical phrase.


I embraced the summer dawn.

---Nothing was moving yet on the facades of palaces. The

water was still. Encampments of shadows still lingered

along the road through the woods. I walked, walking liv-

ing and warm breaths, and jewels looked on, and wings

arose noiselessly.

---The first undertaking, in the pathway already filled

with fresh, pale sparkles, was a flower which told me its


---I laughed at the blond wasserfall disheveling itself

through the pines: at its silver summit, I recognized the


---Then I lifted the veils one by one. In the pathway, ges-

ticulating. On the plain, where I denounced her to the

cock. In the great city she fled among the steeples and

domes, and running like a beggar along the marble

quays, I chased her.

---Father up the road, near a laurel grove, I wrapped

her in the veils I had collected, and I felt, a little, her

immense body. Dawn and the child fell to the bottom of

the wood.

---When I awoke it was noon.

Norton 2011

top photo: Étienne Carjat

Rimbaud (1854-1891) was known by one as a "disreputable, mean, ruthless, perverse, hateful wretch. He was also one of the greatest poets who ever lived." Ever restless, he managed to travel three continents before succumbing to cancer at age 37. Supposedly his poetry and creative life was all together done with by age 21. We say it has an eternal flame.

Rimbaud self-portrait near the end of his life