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Studies in Modern Poetry: Arthur Rimbaud, Page 4
by Federico Olivero (1921).

'From a gold step—amid silk ropes, grey gauzes, green velvets and crystal discs turning as black as bronze in the sun—I see the foxglove blow over a carpet of silver filigree... —I descry pieces of yellow gold scattered on agate, mahogany pillars upholding an emerald dome; and bouquets of white satin and thin ruby rods surround the water-rose. —Like a god with huge blue eyes and snowy limbs, the sea and the sky attract to the marble terraces the crowd of young and strong roses' [ Œuvres, 'Mercure de France', 1898, p. 124. ].

Here he combines various images, subordinating reality to the fancies stirred up by it in his mind; he aims at giving, through this embroidery of metaphors, an impression of life, freshness and bright colour.

The last piece in Autres Illuminations, with its mystic atmosphere, its crude realism and its effects of light in a sombre interior, recalls in some way an etching of Rembrandt. 'The pool seemed a sinister wash-house. One day the afternoon sun was spreading a large scythe of light on the buried waters, like a white angel lying on his side in this cistern; and all the reflections, infinitely pale, quivered. —All sins, thin and strong threads spun by the devil, wished to throw themselves into the water. And the divine Master came. The light in the vaulted pond was yellow like the last leaves of the vine. The Saviour stood against a column'.

The following passages [ Childhood, V, p. 131. —Fairy, p. 202. ], in which the fantastic and the homely are strangely blended, bear with them the atmosphere of the bewitched land where the poet lives; they introduce us abruptly into the sphere of experience of a morbidly sensitive nature; they are reverberations, at once vague and intense, of the emotional conditions under which they were produced; in both the dominant note is a poignant weariness.

'Grant me at last a sepulchre, far down underground. At an immense distance above my subterranean hall, houses have their foundations, mists gather; the mud is red or black. Monstrous city, endless night!—On my side, nothing but the thickness of the globe; perhaps, gulfs of azure, wells of fire. —In the hours of bitterness I imagine balls of sapphire, spheres of metal. I am lord of the silence. Why should the suspicion of an air-hole wanly loom in a corner of the vault?'

'For Helen were evoked the luxuriant ornamental trees of shadowy virgin forests and the impassive radiances of the astral silences. The ardent heat of summer was confided to silent birds, and its indolence to a boat made of priceless griefs drifting through coves of dead loves and faint perfumes. —For the childhood of Helen throbbed the heart of the poor, shivered the thickets and the shadows, shimmered the legends of heaven. —And her eyes and her dancing movements are finer still than the glow of precious things, the cool breezes, the delight of beautiful scenery and exquisite hours'.

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AUTHOR: Federico Olivero (1921).
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