12 February 2010

If students are linking, teacher can link, too

The poet I have in mind this week -- this month -- is Arthur Rimbaud. The Frenchman wrote all of his poetry in the course of five years when he was as young as my students. At the age of nine he wrote a 700-word essay against having to learn Latin in school. At 16 Rimbaud was discovered in Paris by the poet Paul Verlaine, who left his family to become Rimbaud's lover and encourage the boy's writing. The affair was tumultuous, ending after Verlaine shot him in the hand in an argument just over a year later. Soon after that, the prodigy stopped writing for good at the age of 19 (or 21, according to Wikipedia's version).

What's certain is that his only writing after 1875 can be found in government documents -- Rimbaud often worked in French colonies in Africa -- and letters. He died of cancer at the age of 37. His former lover , gathered all his work and made sure it was published, ensuring his future fame.

Here follows an excerpt from Rimbaud's very famous "A Season in Hell."

A while back, if I remember right, my life was one long party where all hearts were open wide, where all wines kept flowing.
One night, I sat Beauty down on my lap.—And I found her galling.—And I roughed her up.
I armed myself against justice.
I ran away. O witches, O misery, O hatred, my treasure's been turned over to you!
I managed to make every trace of human hope vanish from my mind. I pounced on every joy like a ferocious animal eager to strangle it.
I called for executioners so that, while dying, I could bite the butts of their rifles.

And yes, I named my dog after him.

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