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Paul Verlaine: Arthur Rimbaud, Page 7
by Harold Nicolson (1921).

Le roman de vivre à deux hommes
Mieux que non pas d'époux modèles,
Chacun au tas versant des sommes
De sentiments forts et fidèles.

* * * * *

La misère aussi faisait rage
Par des fois dans le phalanstère :
On ripostait par le courage,
La joie et les pommes de terre.

* * * * *

Nous avions laissé sans émoi
Tous impédiments dans Paris,
Lui quelques sots bernés, et moi
Certaine princesse Souris,
Une sotte qui tourna pire. . . .

* * * * *

Ah ! quel cœur faible que mon cœur !
Mais mieux vaut souffrir que mourir,
Et surtout mourir de langueur.

On vous dit mort, vous. Que le diable
Emporte avec qui la colporte
La nouvelle irrémédiable
Qui vient ainsi battre ma porte !

Je n'y veux rien croire. Mort, vous,
Toi, dieu parmi les demi-dieux ?
Ceux qui le disent sont des fous !
Mort, mon grand péché radieux ? . . .

* * * * *


So much for Verlaine's jaunty version of the story: that of Rimbaud is completely different. On returning to Charleville in July 1873, after the final scene at Brussels, at a time, that is, when Verlaine was still in prison, Rimbaud set himself to write a work of scorching egoism which he entitled A Season in Hell. The book really represents the final defiance flung by Rimbaud at literature before abandoning it for ever. It is at the same time an attempted justification of his own atrocious personality. He tells us how he has taught himself to loathe all beauty, and all morals; to love all hatred and all misery. How he had surrendered in a weak moment to the "hallucination of words"; how he came to "annotate the inexpressible"; and how all this must now be thrown aside. In its place must arise a new life of violence and of action. "I shall return," he writes, "with limbs of iron and with eyes of anger: by my face they shall know that I am of the strong: I shall have gold: I shall be indolent and brutal." In all this the history of his connexion with Verlaine is inserted as a mere incident, and is treated with an obscure and ghastly cynicism. In the character of "la vierge folle" Verlaine is made to whine out his own confession while Rimbaud, in the character of "l'époux infernal," listens to it in satanic silence.


PAGE 7 OF 21.

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AUTHOR: Harold Nicolson (1921).
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