Arthur Rimbaud:




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translated by Paul Schmidt

Far from flocks, from birds and country girls,
I knelt down to drink within a leafy screen
Surrounded by tender hazlenut trees
In the warm green mist of afternoon.

What could I drink from this young Oise,
Tongueless trees, flowerless grass, dark skies . . .
What could I draw from the round gourd that grew there?
Some tastless golden draught to make me sweat.

And a poor sign for an inn would I have made.
Later, toward evening, the sky filled with storms . . .
They became black fields, and lakes, and poles of wood,
Tunnels within the blue night, and waiting rooms.

Water from the woods runs out on virgin sands,
The wind from heaven casts ice thick on the ponds . . .
Now, like one who dives for pretty shells or coin,
Never deny that my thirst has caused me pain!

translated by Paul Schmidt

As long as a knife has not cut
This brain, unfolding
White wrapping, greasy, green,
Its odor always cold,

(He, this thing, should slit
His nose, lips, ears, belly, all!
Disown and leave his legs!
A marvel!)

No; I know that as long as
A knife has not cut his head
Nor a rock crushed his thigh
Nor fire seared his gut,

As long as none has acted, this child,
This bother, this mindless beast,
Will never for an instant rest
From trickery and treason,

And like a Rocky Mountain cat
Will stink in the world's air!
Yet when he dies, O God . . .
Let someone say a prayer.



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