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Illuminations

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The prose poems of the great French Symbolist, Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891), have acquired enormous prestige among readers everywhere and have been a revolutionary influence on poetry in the twentieth century. They are offered here both in their original texts and in superb English translations by Louise Varèse. Mrs. Varèse first published her versions of Rimbaud’s Illuminat The prose poems of the great French Symbolist, Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891), have acquired enormous prestige among readers everywhere and have been a revolutionary influence on poetry in the twentieth century. They are offered here both in their original texts and in superb English translations by Louise Varèse. Mrs. Varèse first published her versions of Rimbaud’s Illuminations in 1946. Since then she has revised her work and has included two poems which in the interim have been reclassified as part of Illuminations. This edition also contains two other series of prose poems, which include two poems only recently discovered in France, together with an introduction in which Miss Varèse discusses the complicated ins and outs of Rimbaldien scholarship and the special qualities of Rimbaud’s writing. Rimbaud was indeed the most astonishing of French geniuses. Fired in childhood with an ambition to write, he gave up poetry before he was twenty-one. Yet he had already produced some of the finest examples of French verse. He is best known for A Season in Hell, but his other prose poems are no less remarkable. While he was working on them he spoke of his interest in hallucinations––"des vertiges, des silences, des nuits." These perceptions were caught by the poet in a beam of pellucid, and strangely active language which still lights up––now here, now there––unexplored aspects of experience and thought.


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The prose poems of the great French Symbolist, Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891), have acquired enormous prestige among readers everywhere and have been a revolutionary influence on poetry in the twentieth century. They are offered here both in their original texts and in superb English translations by Louise Varèse. Mrs. Varèse first published her versions of Rimbaud’s Illuminat The prose poems of the great French Symbolist, Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891), have acquired enormous prestige among readers everywhere and have been a revolutionary influence on poetry in the twentieth century. They are offered here both in their original texts and in superb English translations by Louise Varèse. Mrs. Varèse first published her versions of Rimbaud’s Illuminations in 1946. Since then she has revised her work and has included two poems which in the interim have been reclassified as part of Illuminations. This edition also contains two other series of prose poems, which include two poems only recently discovered in France, together with an introduction in which Miss Varèse discusses the complicated ins and outs of Rimbaldien scholarship and the special qualities of Rimbaud’s writing. Rimbaud was indeed the most astonishing of French geniuses. Fired in childhood with an ambition to write, he gave up poetry before he was twenty-one. Yet he had already produced some of the finest examples of French verse. He is best known for A Season in Hell, but his other prose poems are no less remarkable. While he was working on them he spoke of his interest in hallucinations––"des vertiges, des silences, des nuits." These perceptions were caught by the poet in a beam of pellucid, and strangely active language which still lights up––now here, now there––unexplored aspects of experience and thought.

30 review for Illuminations

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    A series of hallucinatory prose poems full of surreal images and turns of phrase. In arresting detail the work lends voice to the poet’s fantasies and nightmares, violently cycling between self loathing and grandeur, euphoria and despair. So often the work’s opaque and lines lend themselves to multiple readings, inviting rereading.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Florencia

    Youth I. Sunday When homework is done, the inevitable descent from heaven and the visitation of memories, and the session of rhythms invade the dwelling, the head and the world of the spirit. —A horse scampers off along the suburban turf and the gardens and the wood lots, besieged by the carbonic plague. Somewhere in the world, a wretched melodramatic woman is sighing for unlikely desertions. Desperadoes are languishing for storms, drunkenness, wounds. Little children are stifling curses along the r Youth I. Sunday When homework is done, the inevitable descent from heaven and the visitation of memories, and the session of rhythms invade the dwelling, the head and the world of the spirit. —A horse scampers off along the suburban turf and the gardens and the wood lots, besieged by the carbonic plague. Somewhere in the world, a wretched melodramatic woman is sighing for unlikely desertions. Desperadoes are languishing for storms, drunkenness, wounds. Little children are stifling curses along the rivers. I must study some more to the sound of the consuming work which forms in all the people and rises up in them. II. Sonnet Man of usual constitution, wasn't the flesh a fruit hanging in the orchard? —O childhood days!—wasn't the body a treasure to spend?—wasn't love the peril or the strength of Psyche? ... Oct 28, 16 * Also on my blog.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    ‏‎Illuminations‬, Arthur Rimbaud Illuminations is an incompleted suite of prose poems by the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, first published partially in La Vogue (fr), a Paris literary review, in May–June 1886. The texts were reprinted in book form in October 1886 by Les publications de La Vogue under the title Les Illuminations proposed by the poet Paul Verlaine, Rimbaud's former lover. In his preface, Verlaine explained that the title was based on the English word illuminations, in the sense of co ‏‎Illuminations‬, Arthur Rimbaud Illuminations is an incompleted suite of prose poems by the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, first published partially in La Vogue (fr), a Paris literary review, in May–June 1886. The texts were reprinted in book form in October 1886 by Les publications de La Vogue under the title Les Illuminations proposed by the poet Paul Verlaine, Rimbaud's former lover. In his preface, Verlaine explained that the title was based on the English word illuminations, in the sense of coloured plates, and a sub-title that Rimbaud had already given the work. Verlaine dated its composition between 1873 and 1875. English version, Dawn I embraced the summer dawn. Nothing yet stirred on the face of the palaces. The water is dead. The shadows still camped in the woodland road. I walked, waking quick warm breaths, and gems looked on, and wings rose without a sound. The first venture was, in a path already filled with fresh, pale gleams, a flower who told me her name. I laughed at the blond waterfall that tousled through the pines: on the silver summit I recognized the goddess. Then, one by one, I lifted up her veils. In the lane, waving my arms. Across the plain, where I notified the cock. In the city, she fled among the steeples and the domes, and running like a beggar on the marble quays, I chased her. Above the road near a laurel wood, I wrapped her up in gathered veils, and I felt a little her immense body. Dawn and the child fell down at the edge of the wood. Waking, it was noon. French version, Aube J'ai embrassé l'aube d'été. Rien ne bougeait encore au front des palais. L'eau était morte. Les camps d'ombres ne quittaient pas la route du bois. J'ai marché, réveillant les haleines vives et tièdes, et les pierreries regardèrent, et les ailes se levèrent sans bruit. La première entreprise fut, dans le sentier déjà empli de frais et blêmes éclats, une fleur qui me dit son nom. Je ris au wasserfall blond qui s'échevela à travers les sapins : à la cime argentée je reconnus la déesse. Alors, je levai un à un les voiles. Dans l'allée, en agitant les bras. Par la plaine, où je l'ai dénoncée au coq. A la grand'ville elle fuyait parmi les clochers et les dômes, et courant comme un mendiant sur les quais de marbre, je la chassais. En haut de la route, près d'un bois de lauriers, je l'ai entourée avec ses voiles amassés, et j'ai senti un peu son immense corps. L'aube et l'enfant tombèrent au bas du bois. Au réveil il était midi. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: دوم ماه آگوست سال 1984 میلادی عنوان: اشراقها: اوراق مصور آرتور رمبو؛ مترجم: بیژن الهی؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، فاریاب، 1362، در 260 ص، مصور، واژه نامه دارد، کتابنامه از ص 245 تا 251، عنوان دیگر: اوراق مصور آرتور رمبو؛ موضوع: آرتور رمبو (1854 تا 1891) اشراقها، موضوع: شعر فرانسه قرن 19 م ترجمه شده از فرانسه به فارسی، شعر فارسی قرن 14 هجری شمسی آرتور رمبو با نام کامل «ژان نیکلا آرتور رمبو (زاده 1854 میلادی)» از شاعران فرانسه که ایشان را از بنیانگذاران شعر مدرن برمی‌شمارند. «اشراقها» را در سال 1874 میلادی سروده است. در دوران کوتاه زندگی‌ خویش به کشورهای: انگلستان، آلمان، بلژیک، هلند، ایتالیا، اتریش، سوئد، اندونزی، قبرس، مصر، یمن و حبشه سفر کردند. در سی‌ و هفت سالگی، برای درمان «تومور سرطانی» پای راست‌ ایشان را قطع می‌کنند، چند ماه پس از عمل در 10 نوامبر سال 1891 میلادی مطابق با 19 آبان 1270 ه.ش در کنار خواهرشان «ایزابل» جان می‌سپارند شعر سپیده برگردان از بیژن الهی، شعری از اشراقها سپیده تابستان را به آغوش کشیدم چیزی هنوز به پیشانی ی کاخها نمیجنبید. آب مرده بود. اردوی سایه ها ترک بیشه نمیگفت. رفتم به راه، با نفسها که ولرم و زنده بیدار میشدند، و گوهران نظر کردند، و بالها بیصدا برخاست ماجرای نخستین، به کوره راه، انباشته درجا از سوهای پریده رنگ و خنک، آن بود که گلی نام خود به من گوید خنده به آبشار بور زدم که ژولیده بود میان کاجها: در آن نـُک، زنخدای را بجای آوردم، سیم اندام آنگاه، حجابها برداشتم یکان یکان. در کوچه باغ، بازو جنبان. میان دشت، که او را به خروس لو دادم. به شهر، از میان مناره ها و گنبدها میگریخت و من، دَوانه، همچو گدایی پی او میکردم بالای راه، نزدیک بیشه ی برگ بو، گیرش انداختم در انبوهی حجابهای او، و اندکی پیکر پهنورش حس کردم. سپیده و کودک پای بیشه فرو افتادند به بیداری، نیمروز بود ا. شربیانی

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    Illuminations remains one of the most compelling, influential and groundbreaking works of literature I've ever encountered. And yes, I am also staggered that this was written by somebody so young. Concise and expansive, fluid and intricate, imaginative and original, immense, kaleidoscopic, soaring into heights that not many others are able to reach. What more can one add that hasn't been said already? This really is the real deal. Bravo! Illuminations remains one of the most compelling, influential and groundbreaking works of literature I've ever encountered. And yes, I am also staggered that this was written by somebody so young. Concise and expansive, fluid and intricate, imaginative and original, immense, kaleidoscopic, soaring into heights that not many others are able to reach. What more can one add that hasn't been said already? This really is the real deal. Bravo!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alejandro Saint-Barthélemy

    Despite my love for Rimbaud's poetry and intelligence (painfully high IQ, if you care about these things), and my knowledge of him (actually, because of it) I'd like to state something: it is virtually impossible to read Rimbaud today in a critical or subjective manner anymore, because his books and life have been so studied and examined by so many that you cannot shake off this feeling of "win-win" towards his poetry. Let me explain myself: Rimbaud could get away with the most obscure and perso Despite my love for Rimbaud's poetry and intelligence (painfully high IQ, if you care about these things), and my knowledge of him (actually, because of it) I'd like to state something: it is virtually impossible to read Rimbaud today in a critical or subjective manner anymore, because his books and life have been so studied and examined by so many that you cannot shake off this feeling of "win-win" towards his poetry. Let me explain myself: Rimbaud could get away with the most obscure and personal lines, because nowadays you have footnotes or biographies explaining to you all the possible meanings behind them, so, from today's perspective, he didn't have to struggle at all with the always unpoetic deed of communicating things but slightly suggest them, because you have somedoby to tell you (due to the exegesis of his works) what he meant with anything (win-win situation for him or not?). Some examples: when he mentions a bear with grey hair, he means some bear from some rare book he liked as a child and the meaning in that relies on that book Enid Starkie is going to tell you all about in her great biography; that same poem's title Bottom (Shakespeare) can be explained for biographical reasons (he was fond of some girl but didn't do anything about it but writing that poem which makes more sense than ever with that information in hand); and many more examples like that (yes, I strongly recommend the aforementioned biography, hehe ;).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    The clouds gathered over the open sea which was formed of an eternity of warm tears. There was obviously a time when Rimbaud was an aspiration, an impoverished goal, one brocaded with the lice with which one can toss upon the clergy. Allah, of course, had other plans. I did read a number of fawning books and I maintained the posture for a while. That is a but a memory. Steeped--perhaps--in patchouli and cigar smoke. It was thus strange to return to the poet after a few decades. I was encouraged ea The clouds gathered over the open sea which was formed of an eternity of warm tears. There was obviously a time when Rimbaud was an aspiration, an impoverished goal, one brocaded with the lice with which one can toss upon the clergy. Allah, of course, had other plans. I did read a number of fawning books and I maintained the posture for a while. That is a but a memory. Steeped--perhaps--in patchouli and cigar smoke. It was thus strange to return to the poet after a few decades. I was encouraged earlier in the week by Edmund Wilson’s dichotomy of the character of Axel and the peripatetic life of Rimbaud. It does give me pause that a teenager wrote these incandescent prose poems. Some border on shrill. Most are transportive and wrought in excess. There appears to be an affinity with Paris Spleen and I am curious to return to Starkie's biography to see Arthur's position on Baudelaire.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    Haunting and surreal - resonates in the hollowness we all try to fill.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Zanna

    Either Rimbaud is a bit like a popular brand of salty yeast extract or I have no poetic sensibility at all. Oh well.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rodney

    I feel a little about Ashbery translating Rimbaud the way I did about Pavement once closing a show with two Velvet Underground covers. With both, there’s a touching tip of the hat to one’s roots, but also a little bit of giving the game away. Not that either has to worry about the charge of being derivative (if anything, Ashbery’s Rimbaud sounds more like elegant, bittersweet, cast-off mot juste Ashbery than it does the Johnny Rotten of French lit), but the effects that made each stand out from I feel a little about Ashbery translating Rimbaud the way I did about Pavement once closing a show with two Velvet Underground covers. With both, there’s a touching tip of the hat to one’s roots, but also a little bit of giving the game away. Not that either has to worry about the charge of being derivative (if anything, Ashbery’s Rimbaud sounds more like elegant, bittersweet, cast-off mot juste Ashbery than it does the Johnny Rotten of French lit), but the effects that made each stand out from the pack take on a different luster when you see them against the shadows they stand in. It’s curious that Ashbery chose to tackle a poet who famously turned his back on poetry at 21, tired maybe of the bag of tricks that allowed him to produce it, where Ashbery’s reached into his own formidable satchel again and again, book after book, for almost three lifetimes longer than Rimbaud existed. This sounds like a diss on Ashbery, and it’s not—it’s because I like him so much that I’m excited to see him translating. Given the enormous reputations of each, the pairing feels more ‘interesting’ than impassioned, just like Pavement’s VU covers seemed a little redundant. What if they’d done the Monkees? Or Yes? Or Skip Spence? What if Ashbery tackled someone whose work, simply by dint of receiving John’s attention, we could see in a totally new way? That’s one thing I loved about Other Traditions, and his tireless advocacy of the world’s Raymond Roussels and Henry Greens and all the other cultish early passions that made that insidery New York School syllabus so rich. So see? It’s a "viva la John" review after all.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tosh

    I think what's amazing here is that a magnificent American Poet John Ashbery at the age 83 (or something like that) translated the great poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, whose poems were written when he was in his teens. The ultimate teenage rebel icon touched by the grand poet of American letters, whose work is still controversial and has a bite. One wonders what took so long? The truth is in this book, well, kind of. Rimbaud will always be this cloud that floats above us. It is there to be captured an I think what's amazing here is that a magnificent American Poet John Ashbery at the age 83 (or something like that) translated the great poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, whose poems were written when he was in his teens. The ultimate teenage rebel icon touched by the grand poet of American letters, whose work is still controversial and has a bite. One wonders what took so long? The truth is in this book, well, kind of. Rimbaud will always be this cloud that floats above us. It is there to be captured and read, but can one ever own the feverish imagery of his poems? Rimbaud's work is in Ashbery's DNA by now. 'Illuminations' is one of those perfect books or even moments, and Ashbery captures the essence and flavor of Rimbaud's vision and words. Mega-important!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Baylis

    I think there's a certain something that ties together "Eucharis me dit que c’était le printemps." in 'after the flood' and albert camus' line "In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer". The rest is peace. I think there's a certain something that ties together "Eucharis me dit que c’était le printemps." in 'after the flood' and albert camus' line "In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer". The rest is peace.

  12. 5 out of 5

    David Lentz

    The mark of an extraordinary writer to me has always had something to do with whether the writer's genre was enhanced by the writer. This is a tall order, I know, but the very best writers change the way that their genre is perceived. Rimbaud's prose poems challenged the traditonal style of the Romantics who wrote before him. He brought a sharp, new incandescence, a flaring literary reality, a breakthrough perception to poetry expressed by his point of view. His stirring soul is seared by his ep The mark of an extraordinary writer to me has always had something to do with whether the writer's genre was enhanced by the writer. This is a tall order, I know, but the very best writers change the way that their genre is perceived. Rimbaud's prose poems challenged the traditonal style of the Romantics who wrote before him. He brought a sharp, new incandescence, a flaring literary reality, a breakthrough perception to poetry expressed by his point of view. His stirring soul is seared by his epiphanies expressed in simple, clean and gleaming imagery. At times, he reminded me of Blake and Yeats. But his poetry is so original and personal and inventive that the genre metamorphosed by his unique literary perspective. Rimbaud believed that the poet must deliberately become an antagonist and work to place one's sensibilities into constant upheaveal in order to write poetry that is truly revelatory. His life was lived to the hilt as he traveled worldwide with Paul Verlaine and traded adventure incessantly. His destitution, lust for life and piquant sensibilities abound in the light and shadow of his poetry. The genre is indebted to the invention, passion and beauty expressed by this tormented soul who simply couldn't get enough of life.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    For some reason I had gotten 60% of the way through Rimbaud's collected poetry in 2005 (the Modern Library edition) and just never got around to finishing it-- turns out I had stopped a few pages before arguably the best single work of French poetry written in the nineteenth century. (I'd say Mallarmé is the main competition?) Technically a bit uneven, and not every piece works, but the best poems are just so ridiculously good. For some reason I had gotten 60% of the way through Rimbaud's collected poetry in 2005 (the Modern Library edition) and just never got around to finishing it-- turns out I had stopped a few pages before arguably the best single work of French poetry written in the nineteenth century. (I'd say Mallarmé is the main competition?) Technically a bit uneven, and not every piece works, but the best poems are just so ridiculously good.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Ever since I saw the movie “Total Eclipse” with Leonardo DiCaprio as Arthur Rimbaud, these lines have haunted me: “I've found it.” “What?” “Eternity. It's the sun mingled with the sea.” It’s from Rimbaud’s poem “Eternity,” and actually reads “the sea mingled with the sun,” which I don’t like as much, but probably just because after so many years, I grew attached to the film version. One good line does not a favorite poet make, as I learned reading this collection. I could take or leave most of them, Ever since I saw the movie “Total Eclipse” with Leonardo DiCaprio as Arthur Rimbaud, these lines have haunted me: “I've found it.” “What?” “Eternity. It's the sun mingled with the sea.” It’s from Rimbaud’s poem “Eternity,” and actually reads “the sea mingled with the sun,” which I don’t like as much, but probably just because after so many years, I grew attached to the film version. One good line does not a favorite poet make, as I learned reading this collection. I could take or leave most of them, but there are striking images in the midst of many of these prose poems, and some lines that just feel unusual and revelatory. “In the wood there is a bird, his song stops you and makes you blush.” I can sort of see what drew creatives like Picasso and Dylan to this poet, but I think I satisfied my curiosity and don’t need to read any more. There was one I particularly liked, called “War.” “In childhood, certain skies focused my seeing: all characters 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 unexpected. It’s as simple as a musical phrase.”

  15. 4 out of 5

    Roger Brunyate

    The Wild Parade I first got to know of Rimbaud's astonishing collection of prose-poems through Benjamin Britten's 1939 setting of nine fragments for soprano and string orchestra. It is a brilliant work whose wild energy and scintillating colors are the perfect response to the extraordinary imagery of Rimbaud's writing. But only a fraction of the whole. So when I came upon this beautiful bilingual edition with the original French on the left-hand pages and translations by John Ashbery on the right The Wild Parade I first got to know of Rimbaud's astonishing collection of prose-poems through Benjamin Britten's 1939 setting of nine fragments for soprano and string orchestra. It is a brilliant work whose wild energy and scintillating colors are the perfect response to the extraordinary imagery of Rimbaud's writing. But only a fraction of the whole. So when I came upon this beautiful bilingual edition with the original French on the left-hand pages and translations by John Ashbery on the right, I was eager to buy it. I started by reading each poem in French two or three times, without consulting either the translations or a dictionary. Only then did I turn to Ashbery's versions and read them through as a single sequence, without looking back at the French. They were very different experiences—both challenging, but for different reasons. In between, I tried translating two pieces myself: Marine (see below*), which is one of the few written in verse, and one of the prose-poems, Fleurs. I found the former more demanding but ultimately easier, since the structure of verse forces a search for the most evocative verbal jewel to set in its precise place. The experience gave me a greater respect for Ashbery's work—but at the same time made it clear that any translator was attempting the virtually impossible. The collection was Rimbaud's farewell to poetry, completed in 1875 before he was even 21. It is astounding that these poems, penned when Impressionism had hardly got going, should already look forward to the verbal equivalent of Post-Impressionism and even Cubism. They are modern in a way we associate with verse of the Twentieth Century. It is not just that Rimbaud takes the colorful images of Symbolist poets such as Baudelaire and Verlaine and makes them brighter, stranger, striking sparks off one another in wild combinations. It is not just the contrast between mystical visions and jangling modernity. It is also the way so many of his poems take several different viewpoints at the same time, to exist in different media simultaneously. The short poem Marine, for example, begins with a view of the battering waves of the sea, switches imperceptibly to deep-scoured ruts on the turning land, and returns to pilings on a jetty, knocked out of true by whirlpools, not of water but of light. Or the last line of À un raison: "Arrivée de toujours, qui t'en iras partout" (in Ashbery's translation: "Arriving from always, you'll go away everywhere"), that piquant discord of toujours/partout, always/everywhere, a time word and a place word, saying so much but so provocatively perplexing. Reading the Ashbery translation by itself, I find him most successful when Rimbaud comes closest to either conventional poetry or narrative prose. The first gives permission, as it were, for the extraordinary images; the second provides a context that can contain them, as here in the beginning of Promontory: Golden dawn and tremulous evening find our brig off shore, facing this villa and its dependencies, which form a promontory as vast as Epirus and the Peloponnesus, or the great island of Japan, or Arabia! Temples lit up by returning processions, immense vistas of the fortifications of modern coastlines; dunes illustrated with warm flowers and bacchanals; grand canals of Carthage and Embankments of a louche Venice; languid eruptions of Etnas and fissures of flowers and water in glaciers […].It is extraordinary stuff, and Ashbery captures it well. But I would not recommend this book for anyone who did not also have access to the French. For while Ashbery is always accurate, there are times when the prose just seems limping and eccentric, as here at the opening of Morning of Drunkenness: O my good! O my beautiful! Atrocious fanfare where I won't stumble! enchanted rack whereon I am stretched! Hurrah for the amazing work and the marvelous body, for the first time! But thinking again of the Britten, I wonder if Rimbaud can be translated into words at all? In light of his abrupt shifts between the senses, might his genius not be captured more truly in painting, in dance, in music? I think of the phrase that Britten uses several times as a kind of motto: "J'ai seul la clef de cette parade sauvage," which I translate as "I alone hold the key to this wild parade!" Declaimed on a high E (I think) against flashing strings, it has a savage energy that perfectly reflects the bizarre procession of grotesques in the poem that precedes it, Parade: Chinois, Hottentots, bohémiens, niais, hyènes, Molochs, veilles démences, démons sinistres. (Chinese, Hottentots, gypsies, nincompoops, hyenas, Molochs, old dementias, sinister demons). The Britten setting has an atavistic march churning away in the bass, eventually breaking to the surface; it is in motion, lurching forward, as I think the Rimbaud does too. But Ashbery turns the parade into a static display, and his magical key becomes a mere topographical diagram: "I alone know the plan of this savage sideshow." "I alone hold the key." It is true. These are worlds of wonder that only Rimbaud can unlock; translators can only come close. So read the Ashbery by all means. But don't let it just lie there on the page. Pick it up, play with it, whisper it or shout aloud, give it movement and fire. See it as a keyhole giving onto marvels. But force that gate in any way you can; Rimbaud's universe is amazing. ====== * Here is the poem Marine, first in the original, then in the translation that I did as an experiment before reading the translation here, and finally in the published translation by John Ashbery. Trying mine first made me appreciate his the more. But it also made me realize that the prodigal invention of Rimbaud is beyond anything that either Ashbery or I (or any of the other four translators I consulted afterwards) have been able to capture in a single version. MARINE Les chars d'argent et de cuivre, Les proues d'acier et d'argent, Battent l'écume, Soulèvent les souches des ronces. Les courants de la lande, Et les ornières immenses du reflux, Filent circulairement vers l'est, Vers les piliers de la forêt, Vers les fûts de la jetée, Dont l'angle est heurté par des tourbillons de lumière. SHORESCAPE Chariots of silver and of bronze, Ships' prows of steel and silver, Batter the spume, Heave up stumps of brambles. The tides scour the scrubland, Score deep ruts with their dragging ebb, Turn east with circular motion, Toward the pillars of the forest, Toward the pilings of the jetty, Exploding their edges in whirlpools of light. [r.b.] SEASCAPE Silver and copper chariots— Steel and silver ship's bows— Hammer the foam— Heave up stumps of brambles. The currents of the heath, And the huge ruts of the ebb tide, Swirl toward to east, Toward the pillars of the forest,— Toward the timber of the pier, Whose angle is struck by whirlpools of light. [John Ashbery]

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    Stars seem difficult here (for translation? for R or A or both?), because I read another translation of *Illuminations* some time ago, and remember feeling like I was reading a translation. But Ashbery's Rimbaud is something quite different, more immediate, and perhaps one way of living out "I is someone else" ("Je est un autre.") To reference lines I'll use "R/A" (Resident Assistant? Recycled Author?). In "Historic Evening" R/A bemoans the Romantic hangover: "...it's no longer possible to submit Stars seem difficult here (for translation? for R or A or both?), because I read another translation of *Illuminations* some time ago, and remember feeling like I was reading a translation. But Ashbery's Rimbaud is something quite different, more immediate, and perhaps one way of living out "I is someone else" ("Je est un autre.") To reference lines I'll use "R/A" (Resident Assistant? Recycled Author?). In "Historic Evening" R/A bemoans the Romantic hangover: "...it's no longer possible to submit oneself to this personal atmosphere, mist of physical remorse, the mere awareness of which is already an affliction." Throughout Illuminations, this punk decentering of the "I" reverberates with a simultaneous destabilizing, in which allegory (if there at all) is mutant, utopia/dystopia/elsewhere flickering, and connotations unfixed. This is an in-between or liminal space of the not yet and the not yet not. Strange metonymies leave trails: "From the asphalt desert flee helmets, wheels, small boats, equine rumps in full retreat" (in "Metropolitan") and the "sweat, tresses and eyes, floating" in "Barbarian"and more. And, in one way, these poems could be seen as metonymic for an overwhelming, nascent elsewhere, maybe answering Baudelaire's plea: "Anywhere! Anywhere!" So long as it is out of time. I was lucky enough to discuss this in a class with other writers. The facilitator for the conversation enchanted us (at least the poets in the room) with the suggestion that, contrary to R/A's suggestion that "absolute modernity" is the "acknowledgment of the simultaneity of all life, the condition that nourishes poetry at every second," we could also see non-Western, ancient, and/or (I is an) "Other" traditions already holding a deep acknowledgment of this non-linear temporality. Very briefly, some of the enchantment: *"...a distinction between what is legendary and what is historical: ... In mythical times, human beings came out of the ground, they change into animals, and these become people again; men and women rejuvenate and slough their skins; flying canoes speed through the air, and things are transformed into stone." --Bronislaw Malinowski in *Argonauts of the Western Pacific: An Account of Native Enterprise and Adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea* (1922) *"During the Winter Ceremonial, time stops [...] Thus, from the first blowing of the ceremonial whistles until the concluding speech there is only a single instant. All acts during that period, though they may seem from a historic viewpoint to precede or postdate one another, are considered to occur simultaneously."--Stanley Walens in *Feasting With Cannibals* (1981) *and, from the wondrous *Dreamtime: Concerning the Boundary Between Wilderness and Civilization* by Hans Peter Duerr (1978): "No matter how great the differences between these groups of people, they were all united by the common theme that 'outside of time' they lost their normal, everyday aspect and became beings of the 'other' reality, of the beyond, whether they turned into animals or hybrid creatures or whether they reversed their social roles....'Between the times' indicated a crisis in the ordinary course of things. Normality was rescinded, or rather, order and chaos ceased to be opposites. In such times of crisis, when nature regenerated itself by dying first, humans 'died' also, and as ghostly beings ranged over the land in order to contribute their share to the rebirth of nature." From this vantage point, "modern", having lived itself out, troubles itself, perpetually recalculating all of its casualties. Drawing on other traditions in Illuminations, Rimbaud's simultaneity might be better situated as counter-current, punk, or "deathjoy in repetition."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nils

    First off, it's insane, while you're reading this, to realize this was written by a twenty year old. More if you think this was just about when he gave up on writing. I'm not sure how far the premise holds that nearly everything in Illuminations is about drug or drink induced experiences. A lot almost certainly came from it, but reading the notes I couldn't always find agreement with that idea. In my opinion, this would take away from Rimbaud's talent instead of add to the impossible grandness o First off, it's insane, while you're reading this, to realize this was written by a twenty year old. More if you think this was just about when he gave up on writing. I'm not sure how far the premise holds that nearly everything in Illuminations is about drug or drink induced experiences. A lot almost certainly came from it, but reading the notes I couldn't always find agreement with that idea. In my opinion, this would take away from Rimbaud's talent instead of add to the impossible grandness of it. But heck, I'm far from a Rimbaud scholar. The translator here is, of course, and while the cadence and tone of the original French has no comparison, the translations are brilliant. You could read these as if they were originals and they would still be breathtaking. To be fair, I had to race through this a bit and skip most of the notes and introductions. Still, this was overwhelming and while I have to come back to this, I'm not sure I'd be able to very soon. Rimbaud gives a lot but demands a lot. My reserves for beauty are somewhat filled up right now.

  18. 4 out of 5

    MVV

    I doubt my own worthiness to review such sublime material. Although I usually avoid deifying literature, what Rimbaud does here is not the stuff of mortals. He truly is the only one capable of the savage slideshow he presents here as illuminations. Sheer brilliance, this. It's such a shame that I do not have a working knowledge of French to read the original but Ashberry seems to have done as stellar job with the translation. Recommended reading for anyone and everyone who chooses to rise above I doubt my own worthiness to review such sublime material. Although I usually avoid deifying literature, what Rimbaud does here is not the stuff of mortals. He truly is the only one capable of the savage slideshow he presents here as illuminations. Sheer brilliance, this. It's such a shame that I do not have a working knowledge of French to read the original but Ashberry seems to have done as stellar job with the translation. Recommended reading for anyone and everyone who chooses to rise above the tide of mediocrity that is churned out so regularly elsewhere, all in the name of poetry.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Clara Lamarca

    I don't know what Rimbaud smoked when he wrote this but it must have been a good brand. I'm not sure I understood half of what he wrote. Seriously. It's something written by someone who had too much to drink. I'm not even sure I like it. I have to think about it, because I thought it was beautiful at times, even magnificent, but quite naive, also quite juvenile. - Je ne sais pas ce qu'Arthur avait fumé quand il a écrit ça mais ça devait être de la bonne ! Je n'ai pas compris la moitié de ce qu'il I don't know what Rimbaud smoked when he wrote this but it must have been a good brand. I'm not sure I understood half of what he wrote. Seriously. It's something written by someone who had too much to drink. I'm not even sure I like it. I have to think about it, because I thought it was beautiful at times, even magnificent, but quite naive, also quite juvenile. - Je ne sais pas ce qu'Arthur avait fumé quand il a écrit ça mais ça devait être de la bonne ! Je n'ai pas compris la moitié de ce qu'il disait, ce qui est un peu con.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Donald

    I can't stop reading books alongside Infinite Jest. Today I checked out Ashbery's new translation of Illuminations from the library and read it in one sitting in my kitchen. I'm glad I did it. It's a beautiful book. I don't know much French, but I will fight anyone who says this is not a good translation. Really, we should all be singing these poems to each other. We should've fought for the last copies in bookstores and read them all the first night they were published. If we care about poetry an I can't stop reading books alongside Infinite Jest. Today I checked out Ashbery's new translation of Illuminations from the library and read it in one sitting in my kitchen. I'm glad I did it. It's a beautiful book. I don't know much French, but I will fight anyone who says this is not a good translation. Really, we should all be singing these poems to each other. We should've fought for the last copies in bookstores and read them all the first night they were published. If we care about poetry and literature, this is it. This is as good as it gets (no, better). This is the divine-impossible-can't-be-real shit. Rimbaud's biography has to be fiction. Like Wittgenstein, it is too perfect to be true. He is a character in a Pynchon novel, not a real person. Right? He is Icarus, not a real person. Right? "To roll with one's wounds, through the wearying air and the sea; with physical torment, through the silence of murderous water and air; with tortures that laugh, in their heinously stormy silence." It is difficult to quote this book because if I kept going I would just quote the entire thing. (The design of the book is also gorgeous. Sometimes the big publishers don't fuck things up.)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael Steger

    John Ashbery translating Rimbaud seems such a logical, even natural pairing, that it is surprising it hasn't happened sooner. (Should we believe Ashbery when in the acknowledgments of his translation of Rimbaud's Illuminations, he thanks Norton editor Robert Weil for giving him the idea?) Ashbery has said that he was about 16 when he first encountered Rimbaud’s poetry, which happens to be about the same time that Ashbery was reading closely the poetry of W. H. Auden. In 1956, Auden would select John Ashbery translating Rimbaud seems such a logical, even natural pairing, that it is surprising it hasn't happened sooner. (Should we believe Ashbery when in the acknowledgments of his translation of Rimbaud's Illuminations, he thanks Norton editor Robert Weil for giving him the idea?) Ashbery has said that he was about 16 when he first encountered Rimbaud’s poetry, which happens to be about the same time that Ashbery was reading closely the poetry of W. H. Auden. In 1956, Auden would select Ashbery’s collection, Some Trees, for publication in the Yale Younger Poets Series, and in his introduction Auden would connect Ashbery explicitly to Rimbaud (“Rimbaud down to Mr. Ashbery, ” he wrote) in what Auden characterized as a modernist lineage of introspective and obscure surrealism. Today, thanks largely (but by no means entirely) to Harold Bloom, we are more accustomed to thinking of Ashbery as the carrier of Wallace Stevens’s lyrical, American flame. Much has also been said about the deep, democratizing influence of Auden’s poetry upon Ashbery’s development. But Ashbery’s Illuminations, aside from shedding light on Rimbaud, reminds us of Ashbery’s French connections, and in particular of his affinity for the prose poem that occupied a critical place in 19th c. modernist French poetry. “I’d always felt that prose poetry,” said Ashbery in 1981, “at least the prose poetry of Rimbaud or Baudelaire, has a poignant, literary quality just from being prose.” Despite his quantitatively slim output, Rimbaud, as Wallace Fowlie famously pointed out, casts a long shadow over the 20th century, from the Surrealist movement up to punk and beyond. He remains a popular icon, whose somewhat androgynous, ever-youthful face may well be the most recognizable portrait of a poet. The strange and often sordid details of Rimbaud's short life, from being shot by his lover, Paul Verlaine, to dealing in guns in Africa, give an appealing edge, even a sense of adventure and danger, to any image of the poet we might possess. Rimbaud, by all appearances, had no interest in pursuing poetry as a profession, as a creative activity tamed and domesticated. On the contrary, poetry was for Rimbaud, a deeply personal act of rebellion, against his home, against his bourgeois hometown of Charleville, against all that was comfortable, and, ultimately against all that was reasonable, moderate, tasteful. To quote from Wallace Fowlie: Everything he observed about him encouraged and flattered his determination to destroy.  Passages in his earliest poetry speak of Rimbaud's desire to reach the absolute, to move beyond the tawdry restrictions of his Charleville life, into a region where his spirit will be free.  he acknowledges, in Soleil et chair , his desire to explore and know, L'Homme veut tout sonder, et savoir... But the reasonableness of his insipid life conceals the infinite from him, Notre pâle raison nous cache l'infini... The violence of Rimbaud's sentiments is all the more intense because of the secret drive in him to discover the world's unity, to understand the correspondences between the life of the spirit and the life of matter [. . .] "The reasoned derangement of all the senses," is the formula for this method and Rimbaud insists on its lengthiness and its vastness (un long, immense et raisonné dérèglement de tous les sens).  It would be difficult to know what Rimbaud meant by dérèglement if he had not explained the word in the same passage of the Lettre [to Paul Demeny of 15 May, 1871] by the three experiences of love, suffering, and madness.  These are the aspects of violence, the derangements which train the soul and lead it to the "unknown," to that state of detachment from daily realities which tend to deaden the soul.  Violence was for Rimbaud a regimen of asceticism.   [. . .]  To be able to write poetry, Rimbaud believed in a way of life that was made up of privations, chastity, fasting.  By the age of sixteen, and largely by his own intuition and thanks to his own practices and discoveries, poetry was for him a way of knowledge, a means of knowing himself and the world.  By the time he had reached that age, he knew the importance of premonitions, of dreams, of psychic phenomena which have always belonged to the tradition of poetry.  He welcomed certain drives in him that transfigured his being and his life. --from Climate of Violence (1969) (In one of those recurring ironies of the historical avant-garde, we can assume that, were he alive today, Rimbaud would thumb his nose at the cult of Rimbaud that has existed at least since the early 20th century, and that he would have nothing but scorn for the institutionalization of his influence.) It would be hard to read Ashbery's translations of the Illuminations without drawing a comparison with the English-language translations that have long been the standard in the United States, those by Louise Varèse published by New Directions. Varèse's translations tend to be more fluid, compared to those of Ashbery, who seems to want to emphasize the prose form of the Illuminations. For example, here is the opening of 'Nocturne Vulgaire' (the title of which both Varèse and Ashbery translate as 'Common Nocturne'): Un souffle ouvre des brèches opéradiques dans les cloisons,--brouille le pivotement des toits ronges,--disperse les limites des foyers,--éclipse les croisées A breath opens operatic breaches in the walls,--blurs the pivoting of crumbling roofs--disperses the boundaries of hearths,--eclipses the windows. (Varèse) A gust of wind opens up opera-like breaches in the walls,--scrambles the swiveling of corroded roofs,--scatters the outlines of hearths,--eclipses casement windows-- (Ashbery) One suspects that Ashbery finds Varèse's translations a bit too poetic, perhaps a bit too smooth. Ashbery's translations usually comprise more words than those of Varèse, and Ashbery's rhythms tend to be less jaunty, too. Ashbery uses alliteration noticeably less than does Varèse. Occasionally, too, Ashbery opts for a more contemporary choice of words. For example, the title of "Soldes" (straightforwardly "Sale" in Varèse’s translation) becomes the more idiomatic (and more American) "Clearance" in Ashbery’s version. After comparing Ashbery’s translation to that of Varèse, I do not have a clear preference: there are aspects I like about each (though Varèse’s translation feels to me closer to the rhythm and tone of the original). Ashbery’s translation adds to our understanding (or our construction) of Rimbaud, and, in the final analysis, both Ashbery’s translations and Varèse’s translations stand alone, in their own right. (It should be added that Ashbery’s introduction is brief and pithy, notable primarily for its unexpectedly extreme praise for “Genie.” Varèse’s more substantial introduction to the 1957 New Directions edition remains to this day a witty and illuminating essay, and her notes and chronology are still valuable.) Indeed, one could 'triangulate' English translations of the Illuminations by also including for the sake of comparison Martin Sorrell's translations for the Oxford World Classics. For the rest of this review, I thought I would juxtapose excerpts of the translations of Ashbery and Varèse, beginning with complete translations of “L’Aube”… Dawn (translated by Louise Varèse) I embraced the summer dawn. Nothing yet stirred on the face of the palaces. The water was dead. The shadows still camped in the woodland road. I walked, waking quick warm breaths; and gems looked on, and wings rose without a sound. The first venture was, in a path already filled with fresh, pale gleams, a flower who told me her name. I laughed at the blond wasserfall that tousled through the pines: on the silver summit I recognized the goddess. Then, one by one, I lifted up her veils. In the lane, waving my arms. Across the plain, where I notified the cock. In the city, she fled among the steeples and the domes; and running like a beggar on the marble quays, I chased her. Above the road near a laurel wood, I wrapped her up in her gathered veils, and I felt a little her immense body. Dawn and the child fell down at the edge of the wood. Waking, it was noon. Dawn (translated by John Ashbery) 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, waking living 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 name. I laughed at the blond wasserfall disheveling itself through the pines: at its silver summit, I recognized the goddess. Then I lifted the veils one by one. In the pathway, gesticulating. 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. Further 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. From the end of "Anguish": But the Vampire who makes us behave orders us to enjoy ourselves with what she leaves us, or in other words to be more amusing. Rolled in our wounds through the wearing air and the sea; in torments through the silence of the murderous waters and air; in tortures that laugh in the terrible surge of their silence.' (Varèse) But the Vampire who makes us behave ordains that we amuse ourselves with what she doles out to us, or that we be otherwise more entertaining. To roll with one's wounds, through the wearying air and the sea; with physical torment, through the silence of murderous water and air; with tortures that laugh, in their heinously stormy silence.' (Ashbery) From "Youth" part IV: Tu en es encore a la tentation d'Antoine. L'ebat du zele ecourte, les tics d'orgueil puerile, l'affaissement et l'effroi. You are still at Anthony's temptation. The antics of abated zeal, the grimaces of childish pride, the collapse and the terror. (Varèse) You're still at the stage of the temptation of St. Anthony. The frolicking of zeal sidelined, the tics of childish pride, the collapse and the fright. (Ashbery) From "Scenes" Des oiseaux des mysteres s'abatte sur un ponton de maçonnerie mu par l'archipel couvert des embarcations des spectateurs. Birds of the mysteries swoop down onto a masonry pontoon, swayed by the sheltered archipelago of spectators' boats. (Varèse) Birds from mystery plays swoop down on a masonry pontoon, set in motion by the canopied archipelago of spectators' pleasure craft. (Ashbery) From "Historic Evening": The same bourgeois magic at every port where the mail boat deposits us! (Ashbery) The same bourgeois magic wherever the mail-train sets you down. (Varèse) Only it will not be like a fairy tale! (Ashbery) Yet there will be nothing legendary about it. (Varèse) From "Bottom": Tout se fit ombre et aquarium ardent. Everything turned to shadow and a passionate aquarium. (Ashbery) Everything became shadow and ardent aquarium. (Varèse) From “Metropolitan”: …l’ondine niaise à la robe bruyante, au bas de rivière; les crânes lumineux dans les plants de pois… …silly Undine in her noisy dress, down by the river; those luminous skulls among the rows of peas… (Varèse) …the foolish mermaid in the garish dress, at the bottom of the river; the luminous skulls in the pea patch… (Ashbery) …et les atroces fleurs qu’on appellerait coeurs et soeurs, Damas damnant de langueur… …and frightful flowers probably called loves and doves, Damask damning languorously… (Varèse) …the horrible flowers that might be called hearts and sisters, the road to Damascus damning its length… (Ashbery)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Greta

    In the wood there is a bird, his song stops you and makes you blush. There is a clock that doesn't strike. There is a pit with a nest of white creatures. There is a cathedral that sinks and a lake that rises. There is a little carriage abandoned in the thicket, or that hurtles down the path, trimmed with ribbons. There is a troop of child actors in costume, seen on the highway through the edge of the forest. Finally, when you are hungry or thirsty, there is someone who chases you away. In the wood there is a bird, his song stops you and makes you blush. There is a clock that doesn't strike. There is a pit with a nest of white creatures. There is a cathedral that sinks and a lake that rises. There is a little carriage abandoned in the thicket, or that hurtles down the path, trimmed with ribbons. There is a troop of child actors in costume, seen on the highway through the edge of the forest. Finally, when you are hungry or thirsty, there is someone who chases you away.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Дарья

    Frankly, I do not know why I still bother with poetry. It is not, and apparently never will be a favourable genre of mine. Unjust rating, perhaps; but this very much resembles plain text to me.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Sad, sad, sad. Ashbery is a magnificent poet in his own right, but has wholly butchered this translation of Rimbaud. With the French-and-English bitext herein, it is easy to see that J.A. is lacking in his knowledge of the French language. Everything is denoted far too literally, with Rimbaud's sentence structures adopting the grammatical stylings of an automatically-translated French-to-English text. Kinder reviewers than I have rendered this edition as "meticulously faithful [...] Ashbery’s ap Sad, sad, sad. Ashbery is a magnificent poet in his own right, but has wholly butchered this translation of Rimbaud. With the French-and-English bitext herein, it is easy to see that J.A. is lacking in his knowledge of the French language. Everything is denoted far too literally, with Rimbaud's sentence structures adopting the grammatical stylings of an automatically-translated French-to-English text. Kinder reviewers than I have rendered this edition as "meticulously faithful [...] Ashbery’s approach has been to stay close to the original, following the line of the sentence, retaining the order of ideas and images, reproducing even eccentric or inconsistent punctuation. He shifts away from the closest translation only where necessary." That is, Ashbery lacks the proper command of the French language that is necessary for any translational efforts. The nuances of Rimbaud's structural semantics are lost as he is homogenized into the basic grammatical stylings of the French language as a whole. This is a beautiful, canonical work but should not be read under Ashbery's guidance.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maria Carmo

    It is not that the book is not well written: the words flow like lava and burn everything in their way... It is the images those words form, that is not appealing in my case... The vision portrayed by the author is far too psychedelic for my taste... Reading these Illuminations, one has the feeling of an openness directly into a sort of unknown chaos: all language becomes little more than a tool through which the author informs his readers about his inner hell... Beautiful as some sentences are, It is not that the book is not well written: the words flow like lava and burn everything in their way... It is the images those words form, that is not appealing in my case... The vision portrayed by the author is far too psychedelic for my taste... Reading these Illuminations, one has the feeling of an openness directly into a sort of unknown chaos: all language becomes little more than a tool through which the author informs his readers about his inner hell... Beautiful as some sentences are, this is the kind of art that leaves me distant and a bit uneasy. But it is merely my perception, so do not stop reading the author because of it! Maria Carmo, Lisbon, 12 November 2014.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Frankie

    I've wanted to read A Season in Hell for a while, but when I saw the rave reviews of Ashbery's translation of Les Illuminations I decided to start with this. I'm very happy with it. Having the French alongside is great, especially for the untranslatable cadence of pieces like "Mouvement" and "Marine," both incredibly colorful and hypnotic poems. I know little French, just enough to read very privately and savor the audible flow of the phrase. The themes are prescient of the 20th century's dadaism I've wanted to read A Season in Hell for a while, but when I saw the rave reviews of Ashbery's translation of Les Illuminations I decided to start with this. I'm very happy with it. Having the French alongside is great, especially for the untranslatable cadence of pieces like "Mouvement" and "Marine," both incredibly colorful and hypnotic poems. I know little French, just enough to read very privately and savor the audible flow of the phrase. The themes are prescient of the 20th century's dadaism, surrealism, and several other "ism"s that led to the lost generation and beyond. The life story of Rimbaud is remarkable enough alone, but that's a long story. My absolute favorite line is from "Anguish": "To roll with one's wounds, through the wearying air and the sea; with physical torment, through the silence of murderous water and air; with tortures that laugh, in their heinously stormy silence." Another favorite is "Royalty," which I've spent far too much time ruminating on (it's about a hanging, isn't it?). John Ashbery's work here is good as well. He chose his words well. Having him translate and preface is as wise and fortuitous as Nabokov's work with Pushkin. As an aspiring typographer I love the jacket design and title pages.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Selena

    We have faith in the poison. We know how to give our whole life every day. – Morning of Drunkenness Rimbaud has quickly become a favourite. I’ve re-read this book thrice over the last month, finding new things to delight me each time around. I’m in love with his words. But I’m also fascinated by him. All of his works were written in his mid to late teens. He gave up writing altogether by the age of 21. One of the French enfant terrible, he caused quite the ruckus during his lifetime (which was, in We have faith in the poison. We know how to give our whole life every day. – Morning of Drunkenness Rimbaud has quickly become a favourite. I’ve re-read this book thrice over the last month, finding new things to delight me each time around. I’m in love with his words. But I’m also fascinated by him. All of his works were written in his mid to late teens. He gave up writing altogether by the age of 21. One of the French enfant terrible, he caused quite the ruckus during his lifetime (which was, in my opinion, too short). The work of his I love most would have to be Ophelia. Many know that I’ve got something of an obsession with the Shakespearean character and Rimbaud writes elegantly of my dear Ophelia. I know that April is Poetry Month and that April is almost over. Rimbaud is worthwhile for any month and any occasion. Eyes flame, blood sings, bones swell, tears and red filaments stream down. Their mockery or their terror lasts a minute or entire months. I alone have the key to this savage side-show. - Sideshow

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ed Smiley

    What do you make of an author that hands a work for publication to an ex-lover who shot him? The imagery is vivid, idiosyncratic hermetic and strangely beautiful, and anticipates surealism. Ashbery has, as far as I can tell, done an excellent job in translation. The original and translation appear on opposite sides. I don't speak French in any meaningful sense, but there is a an exquisite sound sense in his language that I can pick up in a vague sense in reading (and doubtless mispronouncing) pass What do you make of an author that hands a work for publication to an ex-lover who shot him? The imagery is vivid, idiosyncratic hermetic and strangely beautiful, and anticipates surealism. Ashbery has, as far as I can tell, done an excellent job in translation. The original and translation appear on opposite sides. I don't speak French in any meaningful sense, but there is a an exquisite sound sense in his language that I can pick up in a vague sense in reading (and doubtless mispronouncing) passages alound. As just one example, the rather striking translated passage (perhaps my favorite), "Oh! our bones are clad with a new loving body." appears in the original as the far more musical and wondrous "Oh! nos sont revêtus d'un nouveaux corps amoreaux."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Rimbaud's poetry forms a heartbreaking crystallization of being a young tortured artist in late 19th century France. His poems are stunningly beautiful but it's maddening to think he wrote most of them before he turned 20. He's the quintessential enfant terrible, but he's so pretty, and his poems are amazing. I like to read these out loud to my cats; sometimes in English but usually in the French. That's why I love dual language editions like these so much. It's a fantasy of mine to find a woman Rimbaud's poetry forms a heartbreaking crystallization of being a young tortured artist in late 19th century France. His poems are stunningly beautiful but it's maddening to think he wrote most of them before he turned 20. He's the quintessential enfant terrible, but he's so pretty, and his poems are amazing. I like to read these out loud to my cats; sometimes in English but usually in the French. That's why I love dual language editions like these so much. It's a fantasy of mine to find a woman who would read them to me - preferably one whose French is better than mine. My favorite is probably 'Phrases'

  30. 5 out of 5

    Heider Broisler

    The works of Rimbaud have become as famous for the character of the writer as for the writings themselves. He brought a new reality; a breakthrough perception to poetry expressed by his point of view. His stirring soul is featured by his psychology expressed in simple and gleaming imagery. Rimbaud's modernity lies more in the form that he gave to his writing, than in the substance of what he created. And taken as a whole, 'Illuminations' is a good example of this. The works of Rimbaud have become as famous for the character of the writer as for the writings themselves. He brought a new reality; a breakthrough perception to poetry expressed by his point of view. His stirring soul is featured by his psychology expressed in simple and gleaming imagery. Rimbaud's modernity lies more in the form that he gave to his writing, than in the substance of what he created. And taken as a whole, 'Illuminations' is a good example of this.

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