Tuesday, March 24, 2009

(Your name here, Arthur Rimbaud)

I have it on good authority that winter 2008-2009 has come to a close.

It has me thinking about something that Arthur Rimbaud once imagined doing "all winter," which he would now be done doing, I suppose, had he been doing it last winter.

It's from the one Rimbaud poem I have tried to set to music. The title is usually translated as "A Winter Dream":

All winter we’ll wander in a red wagon
With cushions of blue.
Nice and warm. With a nest of creepy kisses
Just for us two.

You shut your eyes and won’t look out the window
Where shadows lurk:
Hordes of black wolves and black demons and nightmares
Inhabit the dark.

And then in panic suddenly you feel
A little kiss, like a scared spider, crawl
Across your cheek…

You turn to help me find the beast,
And of course I promise to do my best,
If it takes all week …
I found on some list-serv this translation, which obviously is the one I had in hand when I was writing the song. It doesn't list the translator, and I don't remember the bloke. Sorry.

Free mp3

"All winter we'll wander"
(Chris King, Arthur Rimbaud)
Chris King

Really, I don't know why more people don't go in for this poetry scores stuff! Who could resist having a songwriting credit like "(Your name here, Arthur Rimbaud)"? And who is going to stop you? Not Rimbaud!

Not that I am so crazy about Rimbaud. French poetry in English translation usually sucks. And Charles Nicholl's book on Rimbaud in Africa puts the kebosh on romanticizing this guy.


Rambo/Rimbaud image courtesy of the CBC.

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