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Metropolitan (Métropolitain)
by Arthur Rimbaud (1872-75); translated by Helen Rootham (1938).

From the indigo straits to the seas of the Ossian, on the rose and orange sands which have been washed by the wine-coloured sky, crystal boulevards have just arisen, inhabited forthwith by young, poor families. They are fed at the fruiterer's. There is nothing rich. ——A town.

Flying from the bituminous desert, flying in a disordered rout with masses of shifting fog surging hideously towards a bending, changing sky (a sky formed of the black sinister vapour which the mourning ocean breathes out), are helmets, wheels, boats and cruppers. ——A battle.

Raise your head; see this arched wooden bridge; these last few kitchen gardens; these coloured masks lighted up by the lamp which the cold night lashes; the giggling ninny naiad in the loud dress, down by the river; the phosphorescent turnip-heads amongst the pea-plants, and the other phantasmagoria. ——The country.

There are roads bordered with railings and walls which can scarcely contain their groves, with atrocious flowers that one is supposed to call one's brothers and sisters, damask of a damning languor—possessions of a fabled aristocracy, ultra-rhenan or Japanese, the proper sort of people to receive the music of the ancients. There are inns which will never open again—there are princesses, and, if you are not too bored, there is the study of the stars. ——Heaven.

There was the morning when, with Her, you struggled amongst those banks of snow, those green-lipped crevasses, that ice, those black flags and blue rays, and the purple perfumes of the polar sun. ——Thy force.


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