Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Oraison du soir" par Rimbaud


Oraison du soir

Je vis assis, tel qu'un ange aux mains d'un barbier,
Empoignant une chope à fortes cannelures,
L'hypogastre et le col cambrés, une Gambier
Aux dents, sous l'air gonflé d'impalpables voilures.

Tels que les excréments chauds d'un vieux colombier,
Mille Rêves en moi font de douces brûlures :
Puis par instants mon coeur triste est comme un aubier
Qu'ensanglante l'or jeune et sombre des coulures.

Puis, quand j'ai ravalé mes rêves avec soin,
Je me tourne, ayant bu trente ou quarante chopes,
Et me recueille, pour lâcher l'âcre besoin :

Doux comme le Seigneur du cèdre et des hysopes,
Je pisse vers les cieux bruns, très haut et très loin,
Avec l'assentiment des grands héliotropes.

Evening Prayer (trans. Wallace Fowlie)

I live seated, like an angel in the hands of a barber,
In my fist a strongly fluted mug,
My stomach and neck curved, a Gambier pipe
In my teeth, under the air swollen with impalpable veils of smoke.

Like the warm excrement of an old pigeonhouse,
A Thousand Dreams gently burn inside me:
And at moments my sad heart is like sap-wood
Which the young dark gold of its sweating covers with blood.

Then, when I have carefully swallowed my dreams,
I turn, having drunk thirty or forty mugs,
And collect myself, to relieve the bitter need:

Sweetly as the Lord of the cedar and of hyssops,
I piss toward the dark skies very high and very far,
With the consent of the large heliotropes.
Reading this poem, I can feel the heavy ennui and the romantic tug vying with one another. Rimbaud's typical atmospheric (e.g. the weight of the tobacco smoke) and bathetic devices (excrement, pissing upwards, etc.) with pinholes of romantic sadness (the young poets stifled dreams and aspirations) give me the feeling of being both trapped and exhausted. At the end of the poem, reality (i.e. the need to urinate) cuts in on the dreams. But, then again, is Rimbaud arguing in favor of indolence? The first line ("I live seated...") could indicate a positive argument for ennui, an emotional state which the Symbolists were indeed in favor of; but other areas in the poem express longing to do something. Of course the two can be the same: viz. the poet at work! In any case, I think the poem definitely expresses an array of complex and conflicting emotions that the artist battles with in the face of reality. Perhaps, in the exhaustion of trying to "understand" or "cope" with reality, we end up just getting three sheets to and urinating in the wind!

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