Studies in Modern Poetry: Arthur Rimbaud, Page 3|
by Federico Olivero (1921).
Claudel expresses in rich and forcible language the eagerness of Rimbaud's soul in the search for new, exotic impressions [ La Messe là-bas "Nouvelle Revue Française,,. 1919,p.43. ]. 'Who would have entered those places where the evil angels are chained, — who would have spelt the golden text, of which you may decipher two or three lines, for a second, in the evening sky?'
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Turning our attention to the structure of the verse, we are impressed by the vehemence of rhythm and phrasing with which the poet, smitten by the shock of sudden and violent sensations, tries to render his inward turmoil. We must go to Baudelaire in order to find such a vigorous sense of metre. Some features of Baudelaire's La Mort are recognisable in this poem;
D'espace et de lumière et de cieux embrasés;
Montrez-nous les écrins de vos riches mémoires,
Ces bijoux merveilleux, faits d'astres et d'éthers.
La gloire du soleil sur la mer violette,
La gloire des cités dans le soleil couchant,
Allumaient dans nos cœurs une ardeur inquiète
De plonger dans un ciel au reflet alléchant.
His work stands distinctly apart from all other manifestations of Symbolism, as the image is to him not only a reflection but an 'equivalent' of the emotion. He does not convey an idea or a sensation by means of suggestion or periphrasis, as it is the case with Mallarmé or Saint-Pol-Roux; the metaphor is to him 'interchangeable' with the impression, his prime object being the identification of dream with reality. 'Poetical eloquence', says Newman [ Poetry, with reference to Aristotle's Poetics, ch. 7. ], 'consists, first, in the power of illustration; which the poet uses, not as the orator, voluntarily, for the sake of clearness or ornament, but almost by constraint, as the sole outlet and expression of intense inward feeling'.
The Illuminations—he uses the word in the sense of coloured-prints—fall into two groups: projections of emotions by means of symbols, and merely fanciful pictures. The 'poem in prose', being unhampered by rhyme, rhythm and metrical laws, afforded to him ample liberty of conception and execution. Free from all restrictions, he boldly takes his own way; he plays not only with fancy, but with sight; all kinds of images, angels and men, giants and dragons, flowers and glaciers, flock about him, streaming out of his mind in continuous flow. With a strong tendency to exaggerate, he delights in startling shocks of colours and sounds. He is uncapable to check the dangerous bent of his poetical faculties; the ill-governed activity of fantasy runs riot. As in the moral field, he is a rebel to all rules. He mingles trivialities and rare images, simple idioms and highly elaborate phrases. Viewed in their exteriorities his poems appear confused, bewildering, like an Impressionistic picture close to the eyes of the observer. Besides, we notice in his use of line and tint, a barbaric strength, just as the broad outlines and the flat, glaring colours of Gauguin's pictures recall a primitive art. But let us pierce through the many-coloured veil to the inner world out of which they sprang, and they will rise clear and distinct before our mind. The sentences are not logically arranged, and yet the required impression emerges from the turmoil of clashing metaphors. The following piece, Flowers, is characteristic of his method, with its qualities and shortcomings.
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