Arthur Rimbaud

(20 October 1854 – 10 November 1891 / Charleville, Ardennes)

Jeanne-Marie's Hands - Poem by Arthur Rimbaud

Jeanne-Marie has strong hands; dark hands tanned by the summer,
pale hands like dead hands. Are they the hands of Donna Juana?
Did they get their dusky cream colour
sailing on pools of sensual pleasure?

Have they dipped into moons, in ponds of serenity?
Have they drunk heat from barbarous skies, calm upon enchanting knees?
Have they rolled cigars, or traded in diamonds?
Have they tossed golden flowers at the glowing feet of Madonnas?

It is the black blood of belladonnas that blazes and sleeps in their palms.
Hands which drive the diptera with which
the auroral bluenesses buzz, towards the nectars?
Hands which measure out poisons?

Oh what Dream has stiffened them in pandiculations?
Some extraordinary dream of the Asias, of Khenghavars or Zions?
These hands have neither sold oranges
nor become sunburnt at the feet of the gods:
these hands have never washed the napkins of heavy babies without eyes.

These are not the hands of a tart,
nor of working women with round foreheads burnt
by a sun which is drunk with the smell of tar,
in woods that sink of factories.

These are benders of backbones; hands that never work harm;
more inevitable than machines, stronger than carthorses!
Stirring like furnaces, shaking off all their chills of fear,
their flesh sings Marseillaises, and never Eleisons!

They could grasp your necks, O evil women;
they could pulverize your hands, noblewomen;
your infamous hands full of white and of carmine.
The splendour of these hands of love turns the heads of the lambs!

On their spicy fingers the great sun sets a ruby!
A dark stain of the common people makes then brown
like the nipples of the women of yesterday,
but it is the backs of these Hands which every
proud Rebel desires to kiss! Marvelous,
they have paled in the great sunshine full of love of the cause
on the bronze casing of machine-guns throughout insurgent Paris!

Ah, sometimes, O blessed Hands, at your wrists,
Hands where our never-sobered lips tremble,
cries out a chain of bright links!
And there's a strange and sudden

Start in our beings when,
sometimes, they try, angelic Hands,
to make your sunburn fade away
by making your fingers bleed!


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 3, 2010



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