Mon frère, Arthur Rimbaud, Page 3|
by Isabelle Rimbaud (1892); translated by Lannie Brockstein (2008).
O my friend, who could you hate? You are kindness and charity the same. Probity and justice are your gasoline. And then, there is in you indefinable charm. You spread around you I do not know whose atmosphere of happiness. Everywhere where you master keys, one breathes a delicious perfume, subtle, penetrating. Which talismans do you carry? Are you a magician? Whose average secrets do you employ to thus conquer the hearts and the wills? Which powerful wings did you create to fly above it all as you do? ... But, whose madness do I say is there? You are good, here is all your magic, O dear being so predestined! ... A happy person, at least? No. The country of your dreams is not on this ground. You traversed the world without finding the place corresponding to your ideal. There is in your heart and your spirit the prospects of more marvelous aspirations, than what even the most tempting regions of terra firma can offer.
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But one sticks in spite of oneself to the countries where one pained the most, suffered more, while making the best one could there. That is why Aden, and Harar are two names from now on registered in your heart. They will have killed your body. What imports? Your memory will want to remain there until beyond death.
Aden, rock calcined by a perpetual sun; Aden, where the dew of the sky goes down only once in four years! Aden, where one does not see a bit of grass, where one does not meet any shade! Aden, the drying oven where brains boil in craniums until they burst, where bodies are desiccated!. Oh! why did you like this Aden, until the desire to house your tomb there?
Harar, prolongation of the Abyssinian mountains: fresh hills, fertile valleys; moderated climate, perpetual spring, but also dry winds and traitors penetrating to the marrow of the bones... Did you explore it enough, your Harar? Is there in it even one corner that is unknown to you? On foot, on horse, mule, you went everywhere... Oh! foolish cavalcades through the mountains and the plains! Whose festival did you feel carried you quickly like the wind among deserts of greenery or rocks; to traverse, sharper than a deer, the paths of the forests; of slight touch, like a sylph, flying over the ground of the marshes!. And your intrepid steps, defying the natives in boldness, flexibility, agility... Whose joy of springing discovered faces, hardly dressed, in valleys with luxuriant vegetations; to climb inaccessible mountains! Whose pride being able to say to itself: "Only I could go up up now, no feet but mine has pressed this ground hitherto unexplored"! What a happiness, what a delight to feel free, to traverse without obstacles, by the sun, the wind, by the rain, the mounts, be worthy of them, wood, rivers, deserts and seas! ... O foot-travellers, would I find your prints, in sand or on the stone?...
Would I find the traces of this work carried out with an especially amazing courage? Innumerable coffee loads, invaluable ivory masses, and these so penetrating perfumes of incense, musk, and gums, and golds, — all of that bought on the immense roads extended from country, after exhausting journeying or from the uncomfortable ride upon camelback. And it is not only to buy. When the natural roads delivered their products, shouldn't one weigh them carefully, subject them to various preparations, pack them to dispatch them by caravans at the coast, where they arrive complete and in good condition only at the price of a thousand cares, only a thousand concerns and mortal anguishes? What two arms, made energetic such as none ever were, without discouraging from yourself nor resting, during eleven years, who could enumerate it? Who could explain the clever combinations of this brain more complete than any other? Then, those troubles, those torments in the middle of the negros lazy and blunt! Those concerns during the long days, who put the caravans to cross the desert! The camels and mules loaded, carrying a fortune, are entrusted to the guard and direction of the Arab hauling contractor. A thousand dangers one must watch for in the loneliness of the road. In addition to the rains and the winds, there are wild beasts, lions, panthers; one must especially watch out for the Bédouins, for wandering tribes and the wicked, the Danakils, the Somalis... And, while the caravan advances slowly towards the sea, the Master, the trader, remained with his foreign post to operate new transactions and to join together the elements of a new convoy, thinking unceasingly with terror that the fruit of its giant labour is, of each minute of the days and of the nights, exposed to being lost without recourse. He feels his brain to contract of anguish, and fever traverses his body. ... his hair whitens. He calculates the amount travelled, and that which remains, while concern devours him. And this torment will last a a long month, the very least amount of time necessary for this outward journey, including the trek home.
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