Thursday, December 2, 2010

Literary Blog Hop: Favorite Poem (In which I rave of Arthur Rimbaud)

Literary Blog Hop
Oh admit it.  You all knew it was coming.  This week's question is "What is your favorite poem and why?"  Seeing as my blog's name is Kelly's FRANCE Blog, you must have guessed it would be a French poem.  By none other that Arthur Rimbaud, by literary love and obsession and crush.  I seriously get teary-eyed sometimes when I read about him and how he really was taken from us too soon :(

Anyway, a little introduction here.  The Literary Blog Hop is a wonderful new hop started by the lovely ladies over at The Blue Bookcase.  If you consider your blog to be "literary", stop by their site and start hopping too! 

My favorite poem by Rimbaud is a poem called "Ma Bohème" ("My Bohemia" in English).  I'll post it first in French and then in English :)

Ma Bohème

Je m'en allais, les poings dans mes poches crevées;
Mon paletot aussi devenait idéal;
J'allais sous le ciel, Muse! et j'étais ton féal;
Oh! là là! que d'amours splendides j'ai rêvées!

Mon unique culotte avait un large trou.
-Petit-Poucet rêveur, j'égrenais dans ma course
Des rimes.  Mon auberge était à la Grande-Ourse,
-Mes étoiles au ciel avaient un doux frou-frou

Et je les écoutais, assis au bord des routes,
Ces bons soirs de septembre où je sentais des gouttes
De rosée à mon front, comme un vin de vigueur;

Où, rimant au milieu des ombres fantastiques,
Comme des lyres, je tirais les élastiques
De mes souliers blessés, un pied près de mon coeur!

My Bohemia

I went off, my fists in my town pockets;
My overcoat too, became ideal;
I walked beneath the sky, Muse! and I was your liege;
Oh ho! what splendid love affairs I dreamed of!

My only pair of trousers had a wide hole.
-A daydreaming Hop o' My Thumb, I strung out rhymes
As I went along.  My inn was on the Big Dipper.
-My stars in the sky had a sweet rustling

And I listened to them, as I sat by the roadsides,
Those good September evenings when I felt drops
Of dew on my forehead like a heady wine;

When, rhyming amid the fantastic shadows,
Like lyres I pulled the elastic bands
Of my wounded shoes, a foot close to my heart!

Not the greatest translation out there, but it'll have to do.  This poem has so much meaning, especially if you've studied his life.  Rimbaud spent time living the "Bohemian" life on the road, with poet Paul Verlaine, his lover.  It was a great time in Rimbaud's life, but also not really..Verlaine had a lot of outbursts and tried shooting Rimbaud once (Verlaine went to prison).  This poem captures the beauty and happiness of being outdoors and living the Bohemian lifestyle.  And I heart it. 

Other poems that I could have mentioned include Le Bateau Ivre (The Drunken Boat) by Rimbaud, and a poem I memorized when I had my French Honors Society Ceremony thing and had to read it aloud: L'Automne by Lamartine.  But Ma Bohème always strikes a chord within me, so I chose to talk about that one :)  The translation of it really won't ever do it justice because in my opinion, if you're reading Rimbaud in English, you're just not getting the full meaning of his words.  But that's just my two cents ;)

And now a photo of him.  I feel weird saying this because I'm now 21, and he was probably 15 or 16 when this photo was taken, but how adorable is that face?!

I'm so happy to be back on the Literary Blog Hop!  I havent' had time to participate the last few weeks, and I really wanted to.  There were some great discussion questions :)


  1. Great choice, love the writing of Rimbaud, although not speaking French it's only in translation.

  2. I have read his translated works. Another great poet.

    Being a poet, I can’t imagine my life without poetry. I live and breath it. I have loved to read a lot of poets and poetry over the years and still find something new every day. I have gone through phases liking, poets, and moving over to the the next. So many yet to read.

    Here is my Literary Blog Hop post!

  3. Kelly!! Est-ce que c'était nécessaire à choisir un poème avec le mot "trou"?? Pourquoi?! Mais, je pense que p-e tu aimes les classes d'Hovland? On trouve le mot "rosée" ici, aussi. Tu es folle, chérie!

    Mais je t'aime :) Grosses bisses!!
    À toute! Heather

  4. Translations never work as well as the original. I wish I understood French well enough/at all so I could go without the translation. Nice choice.

  5. Great choice. You wrote so beautifully about this poem :)

    Thankyou for always writing nice things on my blog too, by the way.

  6. rimbaud is freakin crazy awesome

  7. I ve enjoy rimbaud in translation he was a favourite of Jim Morrison ,had small vol for years much read ,all the best stu

  8. Sonnets x
    When i catch sight of you fair head
    garlande with living laurel,
    making your sad lute sound so well
    that you compel to rise and be your followers
    rock and trees--when i see you adorned
    in virtues legion, chief in honour among men,
    then does my passionate heart suppose
    that by such virtue as you are beloved,
    esteemed by all, so could you love,
    and to such worthy virtue could you amend
    the virtue of taking pity
    and the virtue of being aroused
    sweetly and slowly by my love
    Louise Labe
    (trans french by Judith Thurman)

  9. Thank you for posting this beautiful French poem along with a translation. I'm glad I learned a little French last spring; it's surprising to me that I can now follow French in written form! Delightful!

    Here's my post:

  10. It's been a long time since I've read in French (Candide, I think would be the last piece, and that was in 1979. ;) I love your affinity for it, though.

    I notice The Little Stranger in your sidebar, that was a novel I so enjoyed this autumn. I'd not read Sarah Waters before.

    Thanks for visiting me from the Blog Hop, it's nice to meet you!

  11. hi kelly another great blog
    thanks for hopping over to my blog and leaving a comment I love having a comment it makes blogging worthwhile