Arthur Rimbaud

a poet prodigy.

About Arthur Rimbaud

Jean-Nicholas-Arthur Rimbaud, marked as the founder of French symbolism and one of the first to write in free verse , wrote most of his poetry in the time span of five years. He was born on October 20, 1854 in the French town of Charleville. By the age of thirteen Rimbaud had already won many prizes for his writing, although his mother greatly disapproved.

When his school shut down around the time of the Franco-Prussian War Rimbaud took the opportunity to go off and look for adventure, on the third try he wandered the country side and ended up in Paris at the age of sixteen. A poet by the name of Paul Verlaine noticed him, it later became apparent that Verlaine left his family to have an affair with Rimbaud, though after a few months Verlaine shot Rimbaud in the hand in a drunk and hysterical manner.

He soon returned to his home town and at the age of nineteen completely dropped writing altogether. At the age of Thirty-seven Rimbaud died of cancer, his ex-lover Verlaine published Rimbaud's work and securing Rimbaud's fame and legacy in poetry.

( information from )

Drunken Morning By: Arthur Rimbaud

The poem discusses his idea of alcoholic beverages and what may become of someone through overconsumption. I believe this may relate to Rimbaud's ex-lover and his alcoholic tendencies. Although it is appealing in the end in will only hurt you, it uses free verse and the imagery is placed in an almost foreboding manner. To much of a good thing may kill you.

Drunken Morning

Oh, my Beautiful! Oh, my Good!
Hideous fanfare where yet I do not stumble!
Oh, rack of enchantments!
For the first time, hurrah for the unheard-of work,
For the marvelous body! For the first time!
It began with the laughter of children, and there it will end.
This poison will stay in our veins even when, as the fanfares depart,
We return to our former disharmony.
Oh, now, we who are so worthy of these tortures!
Let us re-create ourselves after that superhuman promise
Made to our souls and our bodies at their creation:
That promise, that madness!
Elegance, silence, violence!
They promised to bury in shadows the tree of good and evil,
To banish tyrannical honesty,
So that we might flourish in our very pure love.
It began with a certain disgust, and it ended -
Since we could not immediately seize upon eternity -
It ended in a scattering of perfumes.
Laughter of children, discretion of slaves, austerity of virgins,
Horror of faces and objects here below,
Be sacred in the memory of the evening past.
It began in utter boorishness, and now it ends
In angels of fire and ice.
Little drunken vigil, blessed!
If only for the mask you have left us!
Method, we believe in you! We never forgot that yesterday
You glorified all of our ages.
We have faith in poison.
We will give our lives completely, every day.

Asleep in the Valley

Asleep in the Valley describes a scene of peace, it talks of a sleeping man out in the wilderness asking nature to be kind to him, where we found out he may have another kind of affliction that has him in this position. The poem is a sonnet composed of four stanzas, that occasionally takes on an ABAB assonance then a strong consonance. Rimbaud was around the age of sixteen when he wrote this, and through context we can assume the real reason of why the man is at peace.

Asleep in the Valley

A small green valley where a slow stream flows
And leaves long strands of silver on the bright
Grass; from the mountaintop stream the Sun's
Rays; they fill the hollow full of light.

A soldier, very young, lies open-mouthed,
A pillow made of fern beneath his head,
Asleep; stretched in the heavy undergrowth,
Pale in his warm, green, sun-soaked bed.

His feet among the flowers, he sleeps. His smile
Is like an infant's - gentle, without guile.
Ah, Nature, keep him warm; he may catch cold.

The humming insects don't disturb his rest;
He sleeps in sunlight, one hand on his breast;
At peace. In his side there are two red holes.

Original French: Le Dormeur du Val

C'est un trou de verdure où chante une rivière
Accrochant follement aux herbes des haillons
D'argent ; où le soleil, de la montagne fière,
Luit : c'est un petit val qui mousse de rayons.

Un soldat jeune, lèvre bouche ouverte, tête nue,
Et la nuque baignant dans le frais cresson bleu,
Dort ; il est étendu dans l'herbe sous la nue,
Pâle dans son lit vert où la lumière pleut.

Les pieds dans les glaïeuls, il dort. Souriant comme
Sourirait un enfant malade, il fait un somme :
Nature, berce-le chaudement : il a froid.

Les parfums ne font pas frissonner sa narine ;
Il dort dans le soleil, la main sur sa poitrine,
Tranquille. Il a deux trous rouges au côté droit.


a first-person speaker that takes it's audience through a dream where he wanders in search of an item or object. The poem shows a lot of personification such as; 'forehead', the water is 'dead', or nature is 'breathing'. Imagery also takes part in the story helping the reader along, where the final sentence makes the reader question the actions preceding it.


I have kissed the summer dawn. Before the palaces, nothing moved. The water lay dead. Battalions of shadows still kept the forest road.

I walked, walking warm and vital breath, While stones watched, and wings rose soundlessly.

My first adventure, in a path already gleaming With a clear pale light, Was a flower who told me its name.

I laughted at the blond Wasserfall That threw its hair across the pines: On the silvered summit, I came upon the goddess.

Then one by one, I lifted her veils. In the long walk, waving my arms.

Across the meadow, where I betrayed her to the cock. In the heart of town she fled among the steeples and domes, And I hunted her, scrambling like a beggar on marble wharves.

Above the road, near a thicket of laurel, I caught her in her gathered veils, And smelled the scent of her immense body. Dawn and the child fell together at the bottom of the wood.

When I awoke, it was noon.

Sensation by: Arthur Rimbaud

The poem Sensation reflects on Rimbaud's travels along the countryside, he describes the land and how he feels on these journeys. Composed in free verse Rimbaud uses imagery and explains his love for the outdoors just as someone would feel about a lover, the simplistic style is also easy to read and sensible.


In the blue summer evenings, I will go along the paths,
And walk over the short grass, as I am pricked by the wheat:
Daydreaming I will feel the coolness on my feet.
I will let the wind bathe my bare head.
I will not speak, I will have no thoughts:
But infinite love will mount in my soul;
And I will go far, far off, like a gypsy,
Through the country side-joyous as if I were with a woman.