The Symbolist Movement in Literature: Rimbaud, Page 4|
by Arthur Symons (1899).
Always, as he says révant univers fantastiques, he is conscious of the danger as well as the ecstasy of that divine imitation; for he says: "My life will always be too vast to be given up wholly to force and beauty." J'attends Dieu avec gourmandise, he cries, in a fine rapture; and then, sadly enough: "I have created all the feasts, all the triumphs, all the dramas of the world. I have set myself to invent new flowers, a new flesh, a new language. I have fancied that I have attained supernatural power. Well, I have now only to put my imagination and my memories in the grave. What a fine artist's and storyteller's fame thrown away!" See how completely he is conscious, and how completely he is at the mercy, of that hallucinatory rage of vision, vision to him being always force, power, creation, which, on some of his pages, seems to become sheer madness, and on others a kind of wild but absolute insight. He will be silent, he tells us, as to all that he contains within his mind, "greedy as the sea," for otherwise poets and visionaries would envy him his fantastic wealth. And, in that Nuit d'Enfer, which does not bear that title in vain, he exalts himself as a kind of saviour; he is in the circle of pride in Dante's hell, and he has lost all sense of limit, really believes himself to be "no one and some one." Then, in the Alchimie du Verbe, he becomes the analyst of his own hallucinations. "I believe in all the enchantments," he tells us; "I invented the colour of the vowels; A, black; E, white; I, red; 0, blue; U, green. I regulated the form and the movement of every consonant, and, with instinctive rhythms, I flattered myself that I had invented a poetic language accessible, one day or another, to every shade of meaning. I reserved to myself the right of translation ¹
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¹ Here is the famous sonnet, which must be taken, as it
was meant, without undue seriousness, and yet as something
more than a mere joke.
A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, bleu, voyelles,
Je dirai quelque jour vos naissances latentes.
A, noir corset velu des mouches éclatantes
Qui bombillent autour des puanteurs cruelles,
Golfe d'ombre; E, candeur des vapeurs et des tentes,
Lance des glaciers fiers, rois blancs, frissons d'ombelles;
I, pourpres, sang craché, rire des lèvres belles
Dans la colère ou les ivresses pénitentes;
U, cycles, vibrements divins des mers virides,
Paix des pâtis semés d'animaux, paix des rides
Que l'alchemie imprime aux grands fronts studieux;
O, suprême clairon plein de strideurs étranges,
Silences traversés des mondes et des Anges;
— O l'Oméga, rayon violet de Ses Yeux!
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