Illuminations, and Other Prose Poems

Front Cover
New Directions Publishing, 1957 - Poetry - 182 pages
12 Reviews
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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Review: Illuminations

User Review  - Ed Smiley - Goodreads

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 ... Read full review

Review: Illuminations

User Review  - Scot - Goodreads

Fantastic work, I have read bits and pieces of Rimbaud through the years though never sat down with an specific collection. This was a great one to start with. I am not sure I know how to read and ... Read full review

Contents

AFTER THE DELUGE Apres le Deluge
6
TALE Conte
16
ANTIQUE Antique
24
DEPARTURE Depart
34
MORNING OF DRUNKENNESS Matinee dlvresse
40
WORKING PEOPLE Ouvriers
50
CITY Ville
56
VAGABONDS Vagabonds
64
BARBARIAN Barbare
100
SCENES
108
MOTION Mouvement
116
H H
122
DEMOCRACY Democratic
128
GENIE CfmV
134
YOUTH nmesse
140
SALE SoWr
146

CITIES Villes
68
VIGILS Vcilices
74
DAWN Auhe
80
COMMON NOCTURNE Nocturne Vulgaire
86
WINTER FETE Fete dHiver
92
THE DESERTS OF LOVE Lei Deserts de lAmour
152
THREE GOSPEL MORALITIES Trots Meditations ohan
162
Notes on Some Corrections and Revisions
170
Copyright

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About the author (1957)

Unknown beyond the avant-garde at the time of his death in 1891, Arthur Rimbaud has become one of the most liberating influences on twentieth-century culture. Born Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud in Charleville, France, in 1854, Rimbaud’s family moved to Cours d’Orléans, when he was eight, where he began studying both Latin and Greek at the Pension Rossat. While he disliked school, Rimbaud excelled in his studies and, encouraged by a private tutor, tried his hand at poetry. Shortly thereafter, Rimbaud sent his work to the renowned symbolist poet Paul Verlaine and received in response a one-way ticket to Paris. By late September 1871, at the age of sixteen, Rimbaud had ignited with Verlaine one of the most notoriously turbulent affairs in the history of literature. Their relationship reached a boiling point in the summer of 1873, when Verlaine, frustrated by an increasingly distant Rimbaud, attacked his lover with a revolver in a drunken rage. The act sent Verlaine to prison and Rimbaud back to Charleville to finish his work on A Season in Hell. The following year, Rimbaud traveled to London with the poet Germain Nouveau, to compile and publish his transcendent Illuminations. It was to be Rimbaud’s final publication. By 1880, he would give up writing altogether for a more stable life as merchant in Yemen, where he stayed until a painful condition in his knee forced him back to France for treatment. In 1891, Rimbaud was misdiagnosed with a case of tuberculosis synovitis and advised to have his leg removed. Only after the amputation did doctors determine Rimbaud was, in fact, suffering from cancer. Rimbaud died in Marseille in November of 1891, at the age of 37. He is now considered a saint to symbolists and surrealists, and his body of works, which include Le bateau ivre (1871), Une Saison en Enfer (1873), and Les Illuminations (1873), have been widely recognized as a major influence on artists stretching from Pablo Picasso to Bob Dylan.

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