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Paul Verlaine: Arthur Rimbaud, Page 6
by Harold Nicolson (1921).

Rimbaud, whose contempt for his fellow human beings had not been decreased by his stay in Paris, now returned to Charleville. At the back of his mind was always the project of making his fortune in some distant country and returning rich and powerful to Europe to receive the adulation of those by whom he was now despised. Ernest Delahaye contends also that representations were made to Rimbaud as to the harm he was doing Verlaine by remaining in his company, and that Rimbaud, with his contemptuous laugh, decided to wash his hands of the whole paltry business. Verlaine continued, however, to correspond with his dangerous young friend, and the nature of this correspondence is still a mystery. The fact remains, however, that in July 1872 Rimbaud suddenly joined Verlaine in Paris, and that the two went off together on what, for Verlaine at least, was to be an escapade of complete disaster.

Both Verlaine and Rimbaud subsequently wrote commentaries on this surprising elopement. Verlaine, writing many years after their final separation, and at a moment when he had received a false report of Rimbaud's death, looked back upon the year they had spent together in a mood of forgiveness—one might almost say of regret. The poem, which appears in Parallèlement, under the title "Laeti et Errabundi," deserves to be quoted at some length:

Les courses furent intrépides
(Comme aujourd'hui le repos pèse !)
Par les steamers et les rapides.
(Que me veut cet at home obèse ?)

Nous allions—vous en souvient-il,
Voyageur où ça disparu ?—
Filant légers dans l'air subtil,
Deux spectres joyeux, on eût cru !

* * * * *

Entre autres blâmables excès,
Je crois que nous bûmes de tout,
Depuis les plus grands vins français
Jusqu'à ce faro, jusqu'au stout.

* * * * *

Des paysages, des cités
Posaient pour nos yeux jamais las ;
Nos belles curiosités
Eussent mangé tous les atlas.

Fleuves et monts, bronzes et marbres,
Les couchants d'or, l'aube magique,
L'Angleterre, mère des arbres,
Fille des beffrois, la Belgique.

* * * * *


PAGE 6 OF 21.

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