The Symbolist Movement in Literature: Rimbaud, Page 5|
by Arthur Symons (1899).
Coincidence or origin, it has lately been pointed out that Rimbaud may formerly have seen an old ABC book in which the vowels are coloured for the most part as his are (A, black; E, white; I, red; O, blue; U, green). In the little illustrative pictures around them some are oddly in keeping with the image of Rimbaud.
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. . . I accustomed myself to simple hallucination: I saw, quite frankly, a mosque in place of a factory, a school of drums kept by the angels, post-chaises on the roads of heaven, a drawing-room at the bottom of a lake; monsters, mysteries; the title of a vaudeville raised up horrors before me. Then I explained my magical sophisms by the hallucination of words! I ended by finding something sacred in the disorder of my mind." Then he makes the great discovery. Action, one sees, this fraudulent and insistent will to live, has been at the root of all these mental and verbal orgies, in which he has been wasting the very substance of his thought. Well, "action," he discovers, "is not life, but a way of spoiling something." Even this is a form of enervation, and must be rejected from the absolute. Mon devoir m'est remis. II ne faut plus songer à cela. Je suis réellement d'outre-tombe, et pas de commissions.
It is for the absolute that he seeks, always; the absolute which the great artist, with his careful wisdom, has renounced seeking. And, he is content with nothing less; hence his own contempt for what he has done, after all, so easily; for what has come to him, perhaps through his impatience, but imperfectly. He is a dreamer in whom dream is swift, hard in outline, coming suddenly and going suddenly, a real thing, but seen only in passing. Visions rush past him, he cannot arrest them; they rush forth from him, he cannot restrain their haste to be gone, as he creates them in the mere indiscriminate idleness of energy. And so this seeker after the absolute leaves but a broken medley of fragments, into each of which he has put a little of his personality, which he is forever dramatising, by multiplying one facet, so to speak, after another. Very genuinely, he is now a beaten and wandering ship, flying in a sort of intoxication before the wind, over undiscovered seas; now a starving child outside a baker's window, in the very ecstasy of hunger; now la victime et la petite épouse of the first communion; now:
Je ne parlerai pas, je ne penserai rien;
Mais I'amour infini me montera dans l'âme,
Et j'irai loin, bien loin, comme un bohémien,
Par la Nature, heureux comme avec une femme!
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