Mon frère, Arthur Rimbaud, Page 1|
by Isabelle Rimbaud (1892); translated by Lannie Brockstein (2008).
I saw him come here in our house for the last time. Unforgettable days, days before and nights which will return never again, never, never!
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I supported his staggering body. I carried in my arms this suffering and failing body. I guided his exits, I supervised each one of his steps; I led him and accompanied everywhere where he wanted; I always helped him to return, to go upstairs, downstairs; I drew aside from his single foot each obstacle. I prepared his seat, his bed, his table. When he was loathe to eat, I nonetheless helped him to take some food. I put drink at his chapped lips, so that he remained refreshed.
I followed the walk of the hours attentively, of the minutes. At the precise moment, each potion that I had ordered was presented to him: how many times per day! I employed the days by trying to distract him from his thoughts, from his sorrows. I spent the nights at his bedside: I would have liked to have deadened the silence by making music, but the music always cried. He asked me to go, in the middle of the night, to gather poppies from outside to help him sleep, and so I went there. But I was afraid, being far from him. In the darkness, I hastened; then I prepared the calming beverages, which he drank... And memories of the day before, lasting until the morning; and when he started to sleep, I remained close to him to look after him, after his needs, his requests, his cries. If I went away from him, with the dawn, without noise, he awoke at once and his voice, his dear voice, recalled me. And I immediately tucked him in again, happy of being able to continue to serve.
How good time became, during the mornings, when finally he was able to get some rest, I would continue to remain for hours, my ears stuck against his loss, spying his call, spying his breath!
No hands but mine looked after him, touched him, equipped him, or eased his suffering. No mother could feel a sharper solicitude towards her sick child... He spoke to me about the country which he had just left; he told me of his work there. He pointed out a thousand memories that had past, of lost happiness; and his tears started to run, bitter, abundant. I tried to calm his sorrow; but I could not, knowing myself full well that never more would life smile to him; and impotent to comfort him, looking at him, he was dumb-founded to the point of tears, I saw at the same time his pale cheeks growing more and more hollow each day, and deteriorating his admirable face.
He often asked me if he was enduring all of these atrocious evils well. I could not answer him. I was afraid, and I am still afraid, that it was not my place to say.
I helped him to die, and he, before leaving me, wanted to teach me the true happiness of life. He, by dying, helped me to live.
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