I was given this book by a Morrocan Jew in exchange for a matt-black Zippo lighter whilst I was working in a North London psychiatric hospital as a cook.
The diabolic devotions and insights from a revolutionary modern french poet, social philosopher and prophet. As a whole his words remind me of that saying in the Gospel of Thomas; "I took my stand in the midst of the world, and in flesh I appeared to them. I found them all drunk, and did not find any of them thirsty..." (28) Rimbaud is perceptive, agonizing, tortured, cruel, and poor. In anguish he struggles to understand life; skimming the horizon of a dysfuntional and chaotic world for some sight of salvation, yet it never comes and he cries out with a piercing lament. Idolatry, science, nobility, justice, war, debauchery, crime, punishment, damnation, delerium... Arthur Rimbaud walks a path of rotten corpses with a crown of thorns in search of honor, reason and restitution. He seeks a God only to find in the discovery that he is at once sent back into the dark impenetrable battle of human existence.
This is a poet that sets the heart and soul on fire, he initiates a frantic search for meaning and relevance. Look! he says, see the world untinted, without all the trappings and trimmings, calculate the length and breadth of despair, circumnavigate the emotions and come back to understand yourself and the inevitability of your extinction. Like a present day Francois Villon he is an explorer of visions, the varied manifestations of humanity and society, he has adopted all the tricks of the trade and speaks the 'lingua' of the professional criminal.
In the end Rimbaud the prophet dies like the rest of us, albeit in a syphilitic fever with an amputated right leg... he can walk no more, but he is the one who can knock us off our comfortable seat in civilisation, inspire us to consider the real world and invent our own sustaining myths. Perhaps that lighter would have come in handy... to ignite the remnaining stagnant swamps in my own breast and burn like a comet across a purple blood sky.