Classic and Contemporary Poetry
POETS SEVEN YEARS OLD, by ARTHUR RIMBAUD Poet's Biography
First Line: And the mother, closing the exercise book
Last Line: Canvas, with a violent premonition of sails! . . .
Subject(s): Children; Poetry And Poets - French; Childhood
And the Mother, closing the exercise book,
Went off satisfied and very proud, not seeing
In the blue eyes and beneath the bumpy forehead
That her child's soul was filled with revulsions.
All day he sweated obedience; very
Intelligent; but certain nasty habits, several traits,
Seemed to show bitter hypocrisies in him.
Passing through dark halls with musty drapes
He would stick out his tongue, his two fists
In his groin, and in his closed eyes see dots.
A door would be open to evening; by lamplight
He could be seen upstairs sulking on the banister
Beneath a gulf of day which hung from the roof. In summer
Above all, vanquished, stupid, he would stubbornly
Lock himself up in the coolness of latrines.
He would think there, tranquil, dilating his nostrils.
When in winter the little garden behind the house,
Washed of the smells of the day, became immooned,
He, stretched out at the foot of a wall, buried in the mud
And pressing his eye flat so as to have visions,
Would listen to the swarming of the scaly trellises.
As for pity! his only intimates were those children-
Feeble, with blank foreheads, eyes fading on their cheeks,
Hiding thin fingers yellow and black with mud
Under clothes stinking of diarrhea and all shabby-
Who conversed with the gentleness of idiots;
And if having discovered him at such filthy pities
His mother became frightened, the deep tenderness
Of the child would overwhelm her surprise.
It was good. She would have the blue look-that lies!
At seven he was writing novels about life
In the great desert where ecstatic Liberty shines,
Forests, suns, banks, savannas! He was aided
By illustrated papers in which, blushing, he looked
At Spanish and Italian women laughing.
When, brown-eyed, mad, in printed cotton dresses
-Aged eight-the daughter of the workers next door,
Had come, the little brute, and when she had jumped
On his back in a corner, shaking her braids,
And he was underneath her, he would bite her buttocks
(For she never wore panties)
And then bruised by her fists and by her heels
He would take the savors of her skin back to his room.
He dreaded the pale Sundays of December
When, all spruced up, at a little round mahogany table
He would read a Bible edged in cabbage-green.
Dreams oppressed him each night in the alcove.
He loved, not God, but the men whom in the russet evening,
Dark, in blouses, he would see returning to the suburbs
Where the criers with three rollings of the drum
Make the crowds laugh and groan at proclamations.
He could yearn for the amorous meadow, where luminous
Billows, healthy perfumes, golden pubescences
Make their calm movement and take their flight;
And as he delighted most in somber things,
When, in the bare room with closed shutters,
High and blue, filled with an acrid dampness,
He would read his novel, which he always thought about,
Full of heavy clayey skies and drowned forests,
Of flesh-flowers opened in the depths of celestial woods-
Dizziness, failings, routs, and pity!-
While the din of the neighborhood sounded
Below, alone, lying on pieces of unbleached
Canvas, with a violent premonition of sails! . . .
Other Poems of Interest...