Mon frère, Arthur Rimbaud, Page 2|
by Isabelle Rimbaud (1892); translated by Lannie Brockstein (2008).
Over there, across the seas, in the mountains of Ethiopia, under the torrid sun, by the extreme wind which desiccates the bones and deteriorates marrows, that tiredness he endured! No European before him had ever tried to achieve the work east to which he was compelled. Those ceaseless effort! Those steps!
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Oh! this fatal voyage of Tadjourah to Choa and in Abyssinia. Which bad breath breathed in these disastrous areas? Which malignant angel had thus led him there? During more than one year, yes, during more than one year, he underwent there, in his body and in his spirit, all the tests, all the possible troubles. And, in return, what compensation did he receive? They were all disenchantments: a complete disaster.
The disease had lurked itself around him. Such a poisonous reptile, it had intertwined him, and, little by little, imperceptibly but surely, it was to lead him, without realizing it even a bit, to the final catastrophe.
— Let us go, courage! You were not happy to the king: eh! well, redouble your efforts, multiply your faculties, leave the ordinary ways. Don't you have the gift of intelligence, the gift of force? Not the intelligence and the force of the majority of men, oh! There is in you an exceptional genius. The divine spark that separated with each one of us is in your heart an incandescent hearth, a dazzling light which penetrates all, everywhere. And what makes your force, it is the will, powerful and bold to which you subject your muscles and your thought, without listening to their complaints nor their need for rest. Work, you who have worked so much already; inform yourself, you who are a living encyclopedia! After the harassing days, pass part of the nights to study the African idioms, you who speaks with ease all of the languages of Europe! Do not find any taste with drinking, eating, all the pleasures that the others would repair themselves with! Take guard well! Carry out an ascetic life! ...
A few minutes are enough for your meals and, during eleven years, you are refreshed only with water. When you joined together with friends, it is only to conduct business with them, and to share any news that is of interest to all. A little music, sometimes, much of lights; but, always, controlling all, your incomparable conversation, which can by itself only lighten, only brighten, and charm those which have the honour to be allowed into your home. The purity of your manners became legendary. Never has a being of lust crossed your threshold and your feet never did not penetrate in a place of joy... Always be good, always be generous! ... Your benevolence is known, far and wide. Hundreds of eyes watch for your daily exits. With each turn along the way, behind each bush with the slope of each hill, you meet with the poor. God, what a legion of unhappy ones! Give to this one your cardigan, that one your waistcoat. Your socks, your shoes are for this one that is lame with blood-drenched feet. Here are the others! Distribute to them all the currency which you have on you, thalars, dollars, rupees. For this grelotteux old man, don't you have anything more to give him? If. Give your own shirt. And when you are naked, if you are still meeting the poor, you bring them back to your house and you distribute food from your own meal to them. In short, you will dispossess yourself of any superfluity and even of being good to come to the assistance of all those, which, on your passage, are hungry or cold... For yourself, you must be strictly sparing! No useless expenditures, none of luxury especially. Who built, who manufactured the pieces of furniture in your home? It is you. You thus also have the secrecy of the craftsman? In the same way, you know the art of the farmer: you put out of ground seeds in Europe, and in your gardens of coffee-trees, among your seedlings of banana trees, you intermingle, vigorously, splendidly, the most exquisite vegetables of the kitchen gardens of the Occident. It is your industry, your work is fertile in all the directions... Who is this young native who is occupied with the various cares of the house, the court and the stores? It is your faithful servant, that which, for eight years, has venerated you and cherishes you by obeying you. It is Djami.
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