Monument Monday

10 Dec

While walking on Boulevard Henri IV toward Saint Germaine to the Musee Cluny (Medieval Musuem in Paris) I passed a sculpture that I kept thinking about for two blocks.  The New Yorker in me had somewhere to be, but the Southerner in me made me turn back; not actually having to be anywhere at any distinct time.

photo (1)I was glad that I did because as I got closer, I could see the phrase, “L’homme aux semelles devant,” literally, “the man with soles before him” or actually, “the man with soles of wind.”  HIM.  I turned the corner to see the front; simply, ‘A. Rimbaud.’

Rimbaud was second wave adored by the Beat poets, third wave worshiped by the New York punk/poet scene in the sixties and seventies, who in turn has my generation as fourth wave devotees for love of them all.

He was described in his time by Victor Hugo as “the infant Shakespeare,” was Paul Verlaines lover, and wandered most of Europe by foot, hence the inscription on the statue.

A poem-

Morning of Drunkenness by Arthur Rimbaud, trans. John Ashberry, from Poetry (April 2011)

my good! O my beautiful! Atrocious fanfare where I won’t stumble! enchanted rack whereon I am stretched! Hurrah for the amazing work and the marvelous body, for the first time! It began amid the laughter of children, it will end with it. This poison will remain in all our veins even when, as the trumpets turn back, we’ll be restored to the old discord. O let us now, we who are so deserving of these torments! let us fervently gather up that superhuman promise made to our created body and soul: that promise, that madness! Elegance, knowledge, violence! They promised us to bury the tree of good and evil in the shade, to banish tyrannical honesties, so that we might bring forth our very pure love. It began with a certain disgust and ended—since we weren’t able to grasp this eternity all at once—in a panicked rout of perfumes.
Laughter of children, discretion of slaves, austerity of virgins, horror in the faces and objects of today, may you be consecrated by the memory of that wake. It began in all loutishness, now it’s ending among angels of flame and ice.
Little eve of drunkenness, holy! were it only for the mask with which you gratified us. We affirm you, method! We don’t forget that yesterday you glorified each one of our ages. We have faith in the poison. We know how to give our whole lives every day.
Behold the time of the Assassins.

Where does your wanderlust take you?

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Rachel Louise Martin, Ph.D.

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