Arthur Rimbaud

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

Historic Evening - Poem by Arthur Rimbaud

On an evening, for example, when the naive tourist has retired
from our economic horrors, a master's hand awakens
the meadow's harpsichord;
they are playing cards at the bottom of the pond,
mirror conjuring up favorites and queens;
there are saints, veils, threads of harmony,
and legendary chromatics in the setting sun.
He shudders as the hunts and hordes go by.
Comedy drips on the grass stages.
And the distress of the poor and of the weak
on those stupid planes! Before his slave's vision,
Germany goes scaffolding toward moons;
Tartar deserts light up; ancient revolts ferment
in the center of the Celestial Empire;
over stairways and armchairs of rock, a little world, wan and flat,
Africa and Occidents, will be erected.
Then a ballet of familiar seas and nights,
worthless chemistry and impossible melodies. The same bourgeois magic
wherever the mail-train sets you down.
Even the most elementary physicist feels that it is no longer possible
to submit to this personal atmosphere, fog of physical remorse,
which to acknowledge is already an affliction. No!
The moment of the seething cauldron, of seas removed,
of subterranean conflagrations, of the planet swept away,
and the consequent exterminations, certitudes indicated
with so little malice by the Bible and by the Norns
and for which serious persons should be on the alert

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 3, 2010

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