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Genius (Génie)
by Arthur Rimbaud (1872-75); translated by Helen Rootham (1938).

He is love and the present. He has thrown wide the doors to foaming winter and to the murmurs of summer—he who has purified all things which quench our thirst and allay our hunger—he who is the charm of fleeting moments, and the supernatural delight of the things that abide.

He is love and the future. He is the strength and the love which we—standing in the midst of fury and weariness—see pass in the story skies and in the waving banners of rapture. He is love in perfect and new measure; he is marvellous and unforeseen reason; he is eternity. He is the beloved machine of fatal qualities. We have all experienced the terror of his and our own submission: oh, joy of our health, vigour of our faculties! Oh egoist-affection and passion for him—who loves us for ever. . . .

We call him back to us and he wanders. . . . And if Adoration passes away his promise rings out: 'Behind us are the ages, superstitions, worn-out bodies and domesticities! This is the epoch which has foundered!'

He will not go away, and he will not come down again from heaven. He will not accomplish the redemption of women's rages, men's mirth, and all this sin. Because He being, and being loved, it is already done.

See the vigour of his breathing, of his mind, of his running; the terrible swiftness of perfection of form and movement! Oh, fruitfulness of the spirit! Oh immensity of the universe!

His body is the release of which we have dreamed; the shattering of a grace thwarted by a new violence!

The vision of Him! Beholding it, one sees all sorrows, all that has ever knelt in prayer, raised up behind him!

His light is the abolition of all moving and sonorous suffering in the most intense music!

His step is the migration of peoples, a migration greater than all ancient invasions!

Him and us! Behold a pride more benevolent than all the charity we have lost!

Oh world, hear the clear song of the new sorrows!

He has known us all and has loved us all. From cape to cape, from tumultuous pole to palace, from the crowded city to the seashore, from glance to glance, with spent force and spent emotions, let us hail him if we see him this winter night.

Let us send him away, and then, under the waters and over the deserts of snow, let us follow the vision of him, his breathing, his body, his light!


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