One of the most beautiful moments I have ever witnessed took place in a cafe in Geneva. I was having coffee with some friends and a dog when I looked out and saw a couple on the terrace. The man was reading Rimbaud’s poetry to his girlfriend, absorbed not only in his book, but by her as well. He would read a passage and then look up to see her expression.
He seemed tough, with his face bruised slightly and his hair shaved in an almost militaristic style, someone clearly not to be messed with, but in this moment he was completely open and vulnerable. He must have felt safe and secure. When he finished the poem, his girlfriend simply hugged her knees and looked at him, beaming. They just gave off a beautiful energy, and I wondered what poem he had read her.
You see, we had only seen their reactions and not heard a word they said, but that did not really matter. That evening I looked up some of Rimbaud’s poetry, and here is the French and English version of a particular one I loved. I also really appreciated Rimbaud had written this particular poem on a train.
Rêvé Pour l’hiver.
L’hiver, nous irons dans un petit wagon rose
Avec des coussins bleus.
Nous serons bien. Un nid de baisers fous repose
Dans chaque coin moelleux.
Tu fermeras l’oeil, pour ne point voir, par la glace,
Grimacer les ombres des soirs,
Ces monstruosités hargneuses, populace
De démons noirs et de loups noirs.
Puis tu te sentiras la joue égratignée…
Un petit baiser, comme une folle araignée,
Te courra par le cou…
Et tu me diras : “Cherche !”, en inclinant la tête,
– Et nous prendrons du temps à trouver cette bête
– Qui voyage beaucoup…
Arthur Rimbaud, En Wagon, le 7 octobre
And here is the translation in English:
A Dream for Winter
In the winter, we shall travel in a little pink railway carriage
With blue cushions.
We shall be comfortable. A nest of mad kisses lies in wait
In each soft corner.
You will close your eyes, so as not to see, through the glass,
The evening shadows pulling faces.
Those snarling monsters, a population
Of black devils and black wolves.
Then you’ll feel your cheek scratched…
A little kiss, like a crazy spider,
Will run round your neck…
And you’ll say to me : “Find it !” bending your head
– And we’ll take a long time to find that creature
– Which travels a lot…
Arthur Rimbaud, In a railway carriage, October 7