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Arthur Rimbaud
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After the Flood (Après le déluge)
by Arthur Rimbaud (1872-75); translated by Helen Rootham (1938).

As soon as the idea of the Flood had abated.

A hare paused in the clover and shaking bell-flowers, and prayed to the rainbow through the spider's web.

What jewels gleamed in hiding—what flowers gazed about them.

In the dirty high-street sprang up the stalls, and boats were dragged toward the sea, staged above it as in old prints.

Blood washed the walls of Bluebeard's house, flowed in the slaughterhouses and in the circuses, where the windows grew livid beneath the seal of God. Blood and milk flowed.

Beavers built up their houses. Glasses of black coffee steamed in the little wine-shops.

In the great house of glass still streaming with water, children dressed in mourning looked at the marvellous pictures.

A door banged; and in the village market-place the child waved his arms to answer the vanes and the weather-cocks on all sides, under the glittering spatter.

Madame X, set up a flat in the Alps. Masses and first Communions were celebrated at the hundred thousand altars of the cathedral.

Caravans set off. And the Hotel-Splendide was built in the chaos of ice and night at the Pole.

Since then the moon has listened to the jackals whining in the thyme-scented deserts—and ecologues in sabots grunting in the orchards. Then in the violet forest all a-burgeon, Eucharis called me, saying 'It is spring'.

Brim over, oh pool; foam, roll over the bridge, and cover the forests; sable cloths and organs, lightenings and thunder, rise up and roll; waters and sorrows, rise and lift up the floods again.

Because since the floods fell, precious stones have so buried themselves, and flowers so opened in profusion, that it has become an untellable boredom! And the Queen, the Sorceress who kindles her glowing embers in the earthen pot, never will she consent to enlighten our ignorance.


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AUTHOR: Arthur Rimbaud (1872-75); translated by Helen Rootham (1938).
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