Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Arthur Rimbaud in the Spring

To Theodore de Banville

Charleville (Ardennes), 24 May 1870.

Dear Maitre,

We are in the months of love; I am seventeen.* The age of hope and dreams, they say--and now I have begun, a child touched by the finger of the Muse--excuse me if this is banal--to express my good beliefs, my hopes, my sensations, all those things dear to poets--and this I call the spring.

If I send you some of these verses--and this thanks to Alph. Lemerre, the good publisher--it is because I love all poets, all good Parnassians--since the poet is a Parnassian--in love with ideal beauty. It is because I esteem in you, quite simply, a descendant of Rimbaud, a brother of our masters of 1830, a real romantic, a real poet. That is why. This is foolishness, isn't it? but still?

In two years, in one year perhaps, I will be in Paris,--Anch'io, gentlemen of the press, I will be a Parnassian! I do not know what is inside me . . .that wants to come out . . . . I swear, cher Maitre, I will always worship the two goddesses, the Muse and Liberty.
Do not frown too much as you read these verses . . . .You would make me delirious with joy and hope, if you were willing, cher Maitre, to make room for the poem Credo in unam among the Parnassians . . . . I would like to be in the last issue of Parnasse; it would become the Credo of the poets! . . . . O mad Ambition!

*Rimbaud was actually fifteen on this date. The poem Rimbaud calls Credo in unam is later entitled Soleil et chair.

-from Rimbaud: Complete Works, Selected Letters translation, introduction and notes by Wallace Fowlie (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, [6th impress.] 1975) p. 297-299.

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