Ode to a Hot Mess

I managed to catch today's installment of The Writer's Almanac, which reminded me that today was French poet Arthur Rimbaud's birthday. Now, normally I dismiss the Symbolist poets as a bunch of whiny, melodramatic babies... but, to give Rimbaud his due, he actually was a baby—a child prodigy whose literary career began at 16, and ended at 21, after his affair with fellow poet Paul Verlaine* went south. The poor kid probably couldn't help writing poetry like this:

A Season in Hell

Once, if my memory serves me well, my life was a banquet where every heart revealed itself, where every wine flowed.

One evening I took Beauty in my arms—and I thought her bitter—and I insulted her.

I steeled myself against justice.

I fled. O witches, O misery, O hate, my treasure was left in your care...

I have withered within me all human hope. With the silent leap of a sullen beast, I have downed and strangled every joy.

I have called for executioners; I want to perish chewing on their gun butts. I have called for plagues, to suffocate in sand and blood. Unhappiness has been my god. I have lain down in the mud, and dried myself off in the crime-infested air. I have played the fool to the point of madness.

And springtime brought me the frightful laugh of an idiot.

Now recently, when I found myself ready to croak! I thought to seek the key to the banquet of old, where I might find an appetite again.

That key is Charity. (This idea proves I was dreaming!)

"You will stay a hyena, etc....," shouts the demon who once crowned me with such pretty poppies. "Seek death with all your desires, and all selfishness, and all the Seven Deadly Sins."

Ah, I've taken too much of that; still, dear Satan, don't look so annoyed, I beg you! And while waiting for a few belated cowardices, since you value in a writer all lack of descriptive or didactic flair, I pass you these few foul pages from the diary of a Damned Soul.
Wow! I bet his birthday parties were nothing but fun, don't you?

*An alcohol-and-drug-addicted pedophile who began his affair with Rimbaud while his seventeen-year-old wife was heavily pregnant.
Posted by: Julianka


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