Thursday, October 27, 2011

Arthur Rimbaud's Illuminations

It was I think during my second year at the university that I saw this small film called Total Eclipse about the tumultuous relationship between the poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, two people gone drunk with poetry. The film was almost unremarkable except for the fact that it starred the young Leonardo DiCaprio who later on will become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.

A few months ago, there was this New Yorker piece on Rimbaud which again piqued my curiosity. Apparently, Rimbaud started writing poems at the age of sixteen, ran away from home, took the literary world in Paris by storm and then, after a violent fight with Verlaine wherein he shot the latter's ear, quit writing at around the age of twenty. The New Yorker piece points out that Rimbaud went back home home, later lived in Africa to become a merchant of, among others, coffee, and at the age of 37 died of cancer.

And so I took up my copy of Rimbaud's Illuminations I got many years ago from a bargain bin at Book Sale and finished reading it during one of the nights I was in Manila attending a conference. Was the book good? Ahhh, I think I missed the proper time of reading the book, and I regret it. I should not have tarried, should have read it when I was seventeen. Now, all the book's teenage angst and dreaminess is lost on me.

On hindsight though I now better understand one classmate I had in a class in Spanish, who was an aspiring poet then. He was probably under the spell of Arthur Rimbaud. But everybody grows up. Even Rimbaud did.

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