Classic and Contemporary Poetry
LIVES, by ARTHUR RIMBAUD Poet's Biography
First Line: Oh the enormous avenues of the hold land, the terraces of the temple
Last Line: Accept no new commitments.
Oh the enormous avenues of the holy land, the terraces of the temple! What
has become of the Brahmin who once taught me Proverbs? Now, further down, I can
still see even old women! I recall the silver hours, and sun by the rivers, and
my girl's hand on my shoulders, and our caresses as we stood in the peppered
heath. A flight of scarlet pigeons thundered in my brain. -Exiled here, I had
a stage on which I performed the masterpieces of literatures the world over. I
might point out to you incredible riches. I have been following up the history
of treasures you might find-and I know what is next! My wisdom is rejected as
chaos. What is my void when compared to the surprise awaiting you?
I am an inventor far more deserving of attention than all those who have
preceded me; a musician who has moreover discovered something like the key of
love. Now a country squire from a lean land with a tranquil sky, I endeavor to
throw off lethargy by remembering my mendicant childhood, my years of
apprenticeship or my arrival in wooden shoes, my polemics, my five or six
widowings, and a few carousals when my level head kept me from emulating my
comrades' folly. I do not miss my former share of divine gaiety. The quietude
of this harsh countryside feeds my dreadful skepticism rather bountifully. But
since this skepticism can no longer be put to use, and since, furthermore, I
have devoted myself to a new anxiety, I believe I shall end up as a very
In an attic where I was locked up when I was twelve I got to know the world-I
illustrated the human comedy. In a gin mill I learned history. At some night
revel, in a northern city, I met all the women of the Old Masters. In an old
Paris arcade I was taught the classical sciences. In a magnificent mansion,
reeking with oriental luxury, I completed my exhaustive tasks and spent my
luxurious retreat. I have burned up my blood. My duty has been remitted to me.
But that need no longer even concern us. I am really from beyond the grave, and
accept no new commitments.
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