45 Books

Book 11

Arthur Rimbaud Complete Works - Translated by Paul Schmidt.

So, the truth is I will be finishing this book today as I've still got a few pages left to go. I feel confident I'm going to finish it... The complete works of Arthur Rimbaud... This book is ordered roughly chronologically, organized in "Seasons" to sort of tell the story of Rimbaud's young life. Each "season" begins with biographical notes about Rimbaud's life, followed by the work from that time, and then the remaining letters to and from Rimbaud from that time period as well. Reading Rimbaud in this way has been very interesting as the progression, formulation and focus of his work shifts and adapts accordingly. 

Child-poet, Rimbaud stopped writing altogether at around the age of 21 and died at 37. Unconventional, vagabond, bohemian, French, Rimbaud serves as an influence to modern literature and is hailed as "the father of symbolism."

One must be absolutely modern. -- Farewell

 I say you have to be a visionary, make yourself a visionary.
A Poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless, and systematized disorganization of all the senses. All forms of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he exhausts within himself all poisons, and preserves their quintessences. Unspeakable torment, where he will need the greatest faith, a superhuman strength, where he becomes all men the great invalid, the great criminal, the great accursed--and the Supreme Scientist! For he attains the unknown! Because he has cultivated his soul, already rich, more than anyone! He attains the unknown, and if, demented, he finally loses the understanding of his visions, he will at least have seen them! So what if he is destroyed in his ecstatic flight through things unheard of, unnameable: other horrible workers will come; they will begin at the horizons where the first one has fallen! 
-- Letter to Paul Demeny

The later into his work and biography I read, the more interested I become. I don't know if it's getting jucier, if his writing is significantly better, or if I've just read enough material that I'm invested more than I realize? Is this the way poetry works in general? Poetry is new turf for me. I've read some poetry, but my no means can I sit down and "talk poetry" with you, I'm just nowhere near having read that much. I've always been on the other side of the poetry crowd, separate from that elite club (if you will). So, on my own, I'm going to make my way through new, different books of poetry (recommendations and opportunities for discussion are welcome) and see how my relationship to that genre changes...

This article might be of interest to other poetry "newbies"

Each poem is the unique vessel of its own intent, focus, tone, theme, language, discovery, astonishment: it resists category, except perhaps the category of form. A poem may consent to being called a haiku, or a sonnet, or a villanelle; it may be content to being called "free," and once upon a time—a time that now begins to take on a kind of autumnal browning—it was delighted to stand under the eaves of the term "modern." And still it is possible, or nearly possible, to say what any single poem is "about"—although a poem may be less about what it is about, and more about its intimations, its penumbra, its scent, its own hiddenness or elusiveness...

What is strange about poetry is what is most manifest: not so much the unpredictable surge of its music as the words of which it is made. Everyone uses words; from minute to minute, from a million larynxes, a deluge of words falls on the air. Every word has its own history, and is a magnet for cultural accretion. A poet has the same access to the language-pool as a tailor, an archaeologist, or a felon. How strange that, scooping up words from the selfsame pool as everyone else, a poet will reconfigure, startle, and restart those words!

And Darling can point me to a Harold Bloom quote that I've had coming to mind but want to be sure of the wording before I go off pretending like I know what I'm talking about.

So if the 52 weeks in a year is used as a metronome: I've still got 34 books to read (not counting the Harry Potter Books--I'm on Book 3 now) and about 39 weeks to do that in... man, can anybody else believe it's already April??? Time is flying folks.


ck said...

I've similarly been very interested in this man, but simply haven't read nearly enough to deem myself as knowledgeable. I do remember watching Total Eclipse circa mid-ninties, re-kindling my love affair with Leo in his early years (around the time of What's Eating Gilbert Grape), and staying up late with his words.

Samuel said...

I agree with your excerpts concerning poetry. But in these accolades is also what I most distrust concerning poetry. If poetry if putting on a play in the viewer's periphery, I distrust the playwright poets that stage a work front and center and assuring the viewer he or she is not viewing it front and center . . . Which is not to say I dislike the liars in poetry--I love the liars and the contradictators--the charlatans are the ones that earn my animosity.

Samuel said...