Revisiting Rimbaud

I saw this poster in the Marais in Paris and I simply had to click.
Rimbaud was the  hash smoking absinthe drinking enfant terrible cum poster boy of French Literature. His poetry has been a powerful inspiration for modern contemporary influencers of popular culture.

The Surrealists, Allen Ginsberg, Picasso,Bob Dylan were influenced by him. He was considered a genius by his contemporaries of the Bloomsbury Group especially my favorite Virginia Woolf.
His search for the unknown truth and his trashing of small town middle class values and his own turbulent relationship with the poet Verlaine made for great press. See the 1995 film Total eclipse starring Leonardi di Caprio which deals with this disturbed and searingly  destructive relationship

He stopped writing or at least his greatest work  A season In hell was published and done with by the time he was twenty one.
He went off to Africa to make his fortune and  died of cancer at thirty seven .

I didn’t pay that much attention to the French symbolists when studying literature but a re reading of Rimbaud’s Venus Anadyomene made me sit up and resolve to to read all his works.

Venus rising or the birth of Venus rising from the sea as the  perfect woman is a classical image in Western literature and art just in case you need a context.

Venus Anadyomene

As from a green zinc coffin, a woman’s
Head with brown hair heavily pomaded
Emerges slowly and stupidly from an old bathtub,
With bald patches rather badly hidden;

Then the fat gray neck, broad shoulder-blades
Sticking out; a short back which curves in and bulges;
Then the roundness of the buttocks seems to take off;
The fat under the skin appears in slabs:

The spine is a bit red; and the whole thing has a smell
Strangely horrible; you notice especially
Odd details you’d have to see with a magnifying glass…

The buttocks bear two engraved words: CLARA VENUS;
—And that whole body moves and extends its broad rump
Hideously beautiful with an ulcer on the anus.

It is incredibly modern and vivid and reminds one of many of the images we have seen and read in later poetry.

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