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Childhood I (Enfance I)
by Arthur Rimbaud (1872-75); translated by Helen Rootham (1938).

This black-eyed, yellow-maned idol has neither family nor courtiers. More noble is she than a Mexican legend or a Flemmish fable. The staring azure and greenery which is her kingdom runs along level shores which the shipless waves have called by names so ferociously Greek, Slav and Celtic.

On the forest verge—where dream flowers tinkle, glitter and shine—sits the young girl with the orange lips. Her knees are crossed in the crystal flood that wells up in the meadows, her nakedness clothed by the passing shadows of the rainbows, by the shadows of the flowers and sea.

Ladies promenade on the terraces near the sea; there are infantas and giantesses; stately negresses sit in the verdigris moss. Jewels stand upright on the slippery ground of the shrubberies and the thawing gardens. There too, are young mothers and grown-up sisters in whose eyes are countless pilgrimages; sultanas, princesses of haughty bearing and tyrannical costumes, little foreigners and persons gently unhappy.

How irksome is the hour of 'darling child' and 'darling heart'.

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