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Rimbaud

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Posted

Nice translations, both. This is one of my favorite Ribmaud poems, not just for its imagery but for what I suspect are layered meanings. And i've never seen it translated exactly the same way twice. :tzela: 's "fairy tortures," for instance, I've seen translated as "rack of enchantments," "enchated rack" and several other ways besides. I like "fairy tortures" best. :yes:

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Posted

I like enchanted rack. :heh:

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Posted

Nice translations, both. This is one of my favorite Ribmaud poems, not just for its imagery but for what I suspect are layered meanings. And i've never seen it translated exactly the same way twice. :tzela: 's "fairy tortures," for instance, I've seen translated as "rack of enchantments," "enchated rack" and several other ways besides. I like "fairy tortures" best. :yes:

Aw, thanks. :)

I suspect 'fairy tortures' would be a little too 19th century for most translators. But I think it's better than the alternatives. The most literal translations seem a bit lacking....

I like enchanted rack. :heh:

:roll:

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Posted

I move we discuss the Drunken Boat, the poems of the Illuminations, and Season in Hell.

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Posted

I move we discuss the Drunken Boat, the poems of the Illuminations, and Season in Hell.

Sounds good to me. :) But I’m staying at a friend’s house right now, so I may not be able to get online to contribute more than every couple days....

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Posted

Maybe a little more on "Matinée d‘ivresse" first, though….

I think it would be a mistake to concentrate too much on what it’s about, or what it means, or even what might have inspired it. I see it as more of an attempt to capture a feeling or mood through a loosely-sketched scenario-- the scenario itself, which we’re clued in on from the title, isn’t really the important part. Hence the discontinuities. Maybe they’re not so noticeable in my translation, since I had to choose between possible interpretations at many points and wanted, naturally, to be consistent, but there are plenty of them. Mine probably lacks some of the feverish confusion of the original, but I’m not really sure what I could have done better.

Interestingly, your other translator appears to have completely ignored one of the most striking discontinuities: “Nous t’affirmons, méthode!” Possibly they weren’t sure what to make of it. But leaving it out significantly changes the possible interpretations of the next line-- just what is the ‘tu’ referring to? Is 'méthode’ being identified with ‘petite veille d’ivresse’, or is it something else entirely? Darned if I know-- it might be interesting to speculate about. But I definitely can’t see any good reason to do away with it.

Also, while I’m on the subject of the other translation, I may as well mention something that’s been bugging me: “The beginning was begun on the border with disgust…”. This is poetic frippery, and it obscures the parallel structure in the original. In fact, the translator seems to have gone out of their way to make sure that all instances of the sentences beginning “Cela commença”, or “Cela commençait” come out completely different. :scratch:

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Posted

Nice, more please. :yes:

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Posted

Okay :)

On the surface, "Matinée d‘ivresse" is basically what its title says. It’s a monologue where the narrator appears to be crossing the threshold between intoxication and lucidity, reflecting on the previous evening, the possibilities it seemed to promise, its ‘fairy tortures’-- or ‘enchanted rack’-- or whatever. He recognizes it as illusory, but in the end, he decides to accept it anyway-- he’s willing to live with that illusion for the rest of his life rather than be returned to ‘the old discord’.

At least, that’s how I understood it. I was unable to find any interpretations on the internet, which might have been useful for contrast, but some of the small differences in the other translation DaveT posted are significant ones. The penultimate sentence, in particular, is difficult to render without some degree of interpretation.

“We know how to live completely, every day.” This isn’t necessarily contradictory with my understanding, but it puts a different spin on the core idea. It’s an unambiguously positive statement-- the original is much more ambiguous-- suggesting that the narrator isn’t so much giving himself over to fantasy, to hopes he knows are false, as to a life free of restraints-- one that just happened to be made possible through drug use. Again, not necessarily contradictory-- our narrator wants to do away with ‘tyrannical honesties’, after all-- although the other translation has ‘decency’ instead, so there‘s another point of divergence….

Rimbaud’s freedom from restraints is one reason so many unconventional artists have been drawn to him through the years. He rejected the restraints of decency and politeness, of quotidian life, and, gradually, of traditional poetic form and narrative sense. It’s easy to see where this interpretation might have found some extra support. But I’m not sure whether the prose poem, by itself, really lends itself to it. I definitely think the ending makes more sense in my view (although it‘s going to stay a little cryptic no matter what). There’s a danger in reading a poet’s life into their work.

Then again, it’s ambiguous enough to where it’s hard not to read something into it. Your thoughts?

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Posted

Rimbaud wrote something to the effect: "What is the meaning of all that I say? It blows my words away."

It is very possible that he himself did not know the true meaning of what he wrote, or that it had multiple meanings that eluded him,

It's really hard not to read his work with an eye toward his life. I've always had the idea that poems like Drunken Morning were part of ongoing literature of farewell, of farewell to literature. This is most easily seen in the prose poem Season in Hell, in which he predicted his fate, and in one of the poems of the illuminations, in which he predicted that he would become "a very vicious madman" on one translation. I think he was saying in this and other poems that the ecstasy of art was transitory and meaningless and could not be adapted to or transform real life, which is what he demanded of literature; He demanded "Christmas on earth," through poetry, the ability of art to transform life. In this way he was similar to later modernist architects and artists, like the Bahaus movement, which believed that art could literally transform the real world. Finding out that it could not, Rimbaud deemed poetry meaningless and gave it up. I think Drunken Morning, among others, was a prefiguring of his surrendering art and returning to what Miller called the stagnant flux.

Of course that interpretation could be pure bullshit. :)

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Posted

Rimbaud's poetry, especially the Illuminations, always struck me as exemplars of transcendental or numinous/luminous experiences that simply cannot be reductively analyzed. Their elusiveness to analysis is their power, it seems to me. He was someone who said that he had trained himself to literally see a mosque where a factory stood, and to see people playing card games at the bottom of a lake. The power of his stuff is that it is beyond the rational mind. When he got older and embraced rationality, he naturally repudiated his "irrational art" as worthless: "dishwater," he called it. He said he wanted to have a son and train him to be an engineer.

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Posted

It is very possible that he himself did not know the true meaning of what he wrote, or that it had multiple meanings that eluded him,

It happens. :ohwell:

It's really hard not to read his work with an eye toward his life.

One problem with this approach is that it tends to lead to an oversimplification of the poem, and the poet. The way a poet reveals himself through art may be different from how he reveals himself through his actions, and we should be wary of using one to interpret the other, even when the poet makes it tempting.

More to the point, when I read the poem with Rimbaud’s rejection of poetry in mind, the parallel only seems convincing until the last paragraph, where you get “Nous avons foi au poison”-- “We have faith in poison”. The poem doesn’t end in rejection, but in affirmation. Admittedly, there’s some ambiguity as to what is being affirmed, but I don’t see how it could be reasonably identified with something other than the poison/drug-- ‘le poison’ could also mean ‘drug’ in Rimbaud’s time-- mentioned in the earlier part of the poem.

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Posted

Check this out:

By+Rimbaud%2C+Arthur+-+Drawing+letter+to+Delahaye.jpg

I don’t know if you’ve run across this before, but it's included in my book of Rimbaud's poetry-- luckily, I was able to find it online, too. It's a self-portrait by Rimbaud, making fun of Musset. :-D

Rimbaud: O nature! O ma mère! (O nature! O my mother!)

Peasant: O nature! O ma soeur! (O nature! O my sister!)

Goose: O nature! O ma tante! (O nature! O my aunt!)

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Posted (edited)

Hooray and :cheers: to Tzela for the resurrected Rimbaud thread! :cheer3::notworthy::thumb::hug1:

Edited by DaveT

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