HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Arthur Rimbaud, born 20 October 1854
“Life is the farce which everyone has to perform.”
Rimbaud is the ‘bad boy’ of French literature. He was incredibly precocious and wrote his great poems while still a teenager. However, he was also a rebel, flicking lice from his hair on to passing priests, enjoying a wild affair with Paul Verlaine and seducing him from his wife and child, and prefiguring surrealism in his highly unusual images and style.
I have visited the fabulous Rimbaud Museum in an old mill across a river in Charleville-Mézières in France. Don’t miss it if you are in that part of the world. After giving up poetry before he was 20, Rimbaud then travelled and led a restless life before dying from cancer just before his 37th birthday.
A French man once recited Le Bateau Ivre (The Drunken Boat) to me and it was as mesmerizing as Rimbaud’s eyes. I also love his poem Voyelles (Vowels) which pictures each vowel as a different colour. If you want to know more about Rimbaud, there is an excellent biography by Graham Robb which I can recommend.
Arthur Rimbaud died on 10 November 1891 at the age of 37.
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