Thursday, March 12, 2009


Since we are talking about letters, the short movie by David Lynch (amazing!) made me think of one my favorite poems ever, written by my favorite poet ever, Arthur Rimbaud: "Vowels". Remember, Rimbaud wrote everything he had to write before he was 20 years old. At 17 as a provocative and brilliant kid he left his middle class, provincial environment and went to Paris, to write, travel, drink and have a stormy relationship with Paul Verlaine -who shot Rimbaud in Brussels after a fight, but did not kill him.
At 21 Rimbaud gave up writing (he had already changed what is called "literature" forever) and traveled to Ethiopia; he got sick there and died in France from cancer, after his right leg was amputated, at the age of 37.

I am really not sure if the translated version is as powerful as the original one in french, but:


A Black, E white, I red, U green, O blue : vowels,
I shall tell, one day, of your mysterious origins:
A, black velvety jacket of brilliant flies
Which buzz around cruel smells,

Gulfs of shadow; E, whiteness of vapours and of tents,
Lances of proud glaciers, white kings, shivers of cow-parsley;
I, purples, spat blood, smile of beautiful lips
In anger or in the raptures of penitence;

U, waves, divine shudderings of viridian seas,
The peace of pastures dotted with animals, the peace of the furrows
Which alchemy prints on broad studious foreheads;

O, sublime Trumpet full of strange piercing sounds,
Silences crossed by Worlds and by Angels:
O the Omega, the violet ray of Her Eyes!

(Rimbaud is the young one sitting on the left, with big hair)



james chiang said...

Ah so fantastic! thanks Agathe. I want to go to Metz and Paree and . . . well le mans du sarthe again (of course ha) do you reccomend any celine works? i do like hugo like everyone else.

hope to get back to paris this year. much more to see and experience!

agathe philbé said...

ahah I've never been to Le Mans!!... I do appreciate Hugo reasonably, but Céline is just... I think, one of the greatest stylists of french literature. I'd recommend reading ALL of his books, but "Journey to the End of the Night" is definitely the one to start with!!
see you soon in Paris!

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