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The Drunken Boat

Rimbaud, The Drunken Boat, Rue Férou, Paris Rimbaud, The Drunken Boat, Rue Férou, Paris Rimbaud, The Drunken Boat, Rue Férou, Paris Rimbaud, The Drunken Boat, Rue Férou, Paris Rimbaud, The Drunken Boat, Rue Férou, Paris Rimbaud, The Drunken Boat, Rue Férou, Paris You know that moment when you discover your crush likes the same band as you? The same ice cream flavor? The same precocious, irreverent 19th century boy-poet? You know, the little things. On our second date, midway through a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream, Evan and I bonded over a mutual affinity for Rimbaud, especially the opening lines of "A Season in Hell":
Once, if I remember well, my life was a feast where all hearts opened and all wines flowed. One evening I seated Beauty on my knees. And I found her bitter. And I cursed her. I armed myself against justice. I fled. O Witches, Misery, Hate, to you has my treasure been entrusted! I contrived to purge my mind of all human hope. On all joy, to strangle it, I pounced with the stealth of a wild beast. I called to the executioners while dying to let me gnaw the butt-ends of their guns. I called to the plagues to smother me in blood, in sand. Misfortune was my God. I laid myself down in the mud. I dried myself in the air of crime. I played sly tricks on madness. And spring brought me the idiots frightful laughter.
You know, your standard, garden variety romantic puff piece. Who needs "roses are red" when you can play sly tricks on madness while gnawing off the end of a gun? Only people of a certain disposition would find romantic kinship in a piece of writing like this. Evan and I were of that disposition. And apparently we're not alone. Last week, I was caught off guard when I rounded the corner onto Rue Ferou and discovered Rimbaud's equally dark poem, "The Drunken Boat," meticulously hand-lettered on a wall. A clear labor of love. The 100-line poem takes up almost an entire city block, the grand scale mirroring the grand themes he explored in the work. It was overwhelming not only because I love the poem, but because I felt an immediate bond with the artist or artists who rendered it. It's fun to think about how Rimbaud would have reacted to someone romanticizing his anti-romantic work.

1 comment

Jul 20, 2014 • Posted by Lesley Sico

So happy to see this. Rue Ferou is one of the spots I’ve photographed over and over, but I didn’t get to swing by on this trip.

I posted a couple photos on my old blog from that same spot, before the poem made its appearance – the ones with the bike and the scooter. I love how Paris changes so subtly over the years.


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