Arthur Rimbaud

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

Hunger - Poem by Arthur Rimbaud

I only find within my bones, A taste for eating earth and stones.
When I feed, I feed on air, Rocks and coals and iron ore.
My hunger, turn. Hunger, feed: A field of bran.
Gather as you can the bright, Poison weed.
Eat the rocks a beggar breaks,
The stones of ancient churches' walls,
Pebbles, children of the flood, Loaves left lying in the mud.

* * *

Beneath the bush a wolf will howl, Spitting bright feathers
From his feast of fowl: Like him, I devour myself.
Waiting to be gathered, Fruits and grasses spend their hours;
The spider spinning in the hedge, Eats only flowers.
Let me sleep! Let me boil, On the altars of Solomon;
Let me soak the rusty soil, And flow into Kendron.

Finally, O reason, O happiness, I cleared from the sky the blue which is darkness, and I lived as a golden spark of this light, Nature. In my delight, I made my face look as comic and as wild as I could:

It is recovered.
What? Eternity.
In the whirling light
Of the sun in the sea.
O my eternal soul,
Hold fast to desire
In spite of the night
And the day on fire.
You must set yourself free
From the striving of Man
And the applause of the World!
You must fly as you can...
No hope, forever; No _orietur._
Science and patience,
The torment is sure.
The fire within you,
Soft silken embers,
Is our whole duty--
But no one remembers.
It is recovered.
What? Eternity.
In the whirling light
Of the sun in the sea.

I became a fabulous opera. I saw that everyone in the world was doomed to happiness. Action isn't life; it's merely a way of ruining a kind of strength, a means of destroying nerves. Morality is water on the brain. It seemed to me that everyone should have had several other lives as well. This gentleman doesn't know what he's doing; he's an angel. That family is a litter of puppy dogs. With some men, I often talked out loud with a moment from one of their other lives-- that's how I happened to love a pig. Not a single one of the brilliant arguments of madness-- the madness that gets locked up-- did I forget; I could go through them all again, I've got the system down by heart. It affected my health. Terror loomed ahead. I would fall again and again into a heavy sleep, which lasted several days at a time, and when I woke up, my sorrowful dreams continued. I was ripe for fatal harvest, and my weakness led me down dangerous roads to the edge of the world, to the Cimmerian shore, the haven of whirlwinds and darkness. I had to travel, to dissipate the enchantments that crowded my brain. On the sea, which I loved as if it were to wash away my impurity, I watched the compassionate cross arise. I had been damned by the rainbow. Felicity was my doom, my gnawing remorse, my worm. My life would forever be too large to devote to strength and to beauty. Felicity! The deadly sweetness of its sting would wake me at cockcrow-- ad matutinum, at the Christus venit-- in the soberest of cities.

O seasons, O chateaus! Where is the flawless soul?
I learned the magic of Felicity. It enchants us all.
To Felicity, sing life and praise, Whenever Gaul's cock crows.
Now all desire has gone-- It has made my life its own.
That spell has caught heart and soul, And scattered every trial.

O seasons, O chateaus! And, oh, the day it disappears, Will be the day I die.
O seasons, O chateaus! All that is over. Today, I know how to celebrate beauty.


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 3, 2010



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