Rimbaud – Sensation – I shall not speak, I shall think about nothing…

25 Mar

My heart leaps up when I behold the charms of spring; tree branches adorned with leaves and gorgeous little white or pink blossoms, daisies and buttercups gracing the meadows, violets smiling devilishly from the grass, sunsets in shades of lilac, pink and orange. These days my soul is filled with sweet restlessness and my mind is alive with ideas, and I found a special delight in aimlessly walking around town and by the river, listen to the water murmuring, feeling the cool breeze on my bare head. Every flower lures me to ‘rescue’ it from someone’s garden and put it in my vase. Flowers, flowers, just give me pretty flowers and I shall be happy!

Some things are synonymous with spring for me; paintings of Impressionists, Schiele and Klimt, music of Debussy and The Stone Roses, Vincent van Gogh’s letters and Rimbaud’s poems! When I first discovered Rimbaud, I instantly fell in love with his poetry. Oh, it was a mad love! His book of poems was in my hands always. Every evening I’d sit by the window, breathing in the chill evening air filled with the sweet fragrance of lilac trees, gaze at the distant hills covered with a veil of pinkish mist, and read his poems over and over again, for a moment stopping to rest my head and daydream, while the distant church bells permeated the air, along with an occasional dog bark. Inspired by what I felt, what I saw, and what I daydreamed about, I wrote many and many verses too, not very good admittedly, but it was Rimbaud who unlocked that creativity in me, and I shall never forget that! Sunsets are heartbreaking, not dawns, and every moon is indeed atrocious and every sun is bitter!

Claude Monet, Woman with a Parasol, 1875

This evening, the same book is in my hand, the same verses, the same view from the window and yet the feeling the poem awakes is more subtle. The excitement upon reading something for the first time is just exquisite, and you can’t get it back. Rimbaud wrote this poem in March 1870; not even sixteen years old. I first read it in March too, and I was overwhelmed by the fact that there was a boy who lived more than a hundred years before me, and yet felt the same things that I do, and managed to express it more eloquently than I ever could. It appealed me immensely that he was my age when he wrote all of his poetry. This verse from another poem was amongst my favourites as well: “Seventeen! You’ll be so happy!/Oh! the big meadows/The wide loving countryside! – Listen, come closer!…

These days, his poem Sensation is on my mind constantly and I think it goes very well with Claude Monet’s portrait of his wife Camille and their son Jean. It’s a beautiful en plein air study on a windy summer’s day, look how Camille’s veil playfully dances in the wind, and how green the grass, how blue the sky, how white the clouds? It was painted in just a few hours, and the intensity of the colours really shows that it was painted outdoors on a summer day, and not in the studio. Colours are intense just like they really are when the sun is high. Camille is shown dressed like an elegant Parisian woman, walking down the meadows on a blue summer afternoon, crushing the short grass and getting prickled by the corn… but will the endless love mount in her soul too, as she walks silently, her face covered with a mysterious flimsy veil?


On the blue summer evenings, I shall go down the paths,
Getting pricked by the corn, crushing the short grass:
In a dream I shall feel its coolness on my feet.
I shall let the wind bathe my bare head.

I shall not speak, I shall think about nothing:
But endless love will mount in my soul;
And I shall travel far, very far, like a gipsy,
Through the countryside – as happy as if I were with a woman.

And here is the poem written by the man himself, what elegant handwriting!

Claude Monet, Woman with a Parasol, facing left, 1886

If this poem hasn’t awoken a sense of excitement and rapture in your soul, I don’t know what could. My plans for the rest of the weekend: Rimbaud, Debussy and a healthy dose of Egon Schiele, and you?

3 Responses to “Rimbaud – Sensation – I shall not speak, I shall think about nothing…”

  1. lautreamont 25th Mar 2017 at 9:30 pm #

    Ah! Rimbaud is it it now. First it’s “Float on a river for ever and ever” And then it’s “Pale Ophelia beautiful as snow” Best stay away from rivers, Missy- Sometimes I worry about you.Great that someone still reads Rimbaud though. Ah just remembered Rimbaud and Verlaine used to smoke opium when they were in London. “Black Moons- White Moons” What is about your posts that always remind me of drugs? Anyway this Sunday I’ll prolly be in Portobello drinking coffee staring out of the window of the cafe,looking real cool and listening on my tabby to City Slang Live 1978- by Sonic’s Rendezvous..Btw didn’t Klimt do a portrait of Wittgenstein’s sister? O Saisons O Chateaux. Best.


    • Byron's Muse 26th Mar 2017 at 2:43 pm #

      Rimbaud it’s now indeed, and I love his Ophelia!

      “On the calm black water where the stars are sleeping
      White Ophelia floats like a great lily ;
      Floats very slowly, lying in her long veils…
      – In the far-off woods you can hear them sound the mort.

      For more than a thousand years sad Ophelia
      Has passed, a white phantom, down the long black river.
      For more than a thousand years her sweet madness
      Has murmured its ballad to the evening breeze.”

      I’m just going for a walk by the river as it so happens 🙂

      My blog always reminds you of drugs, I can only take that as a compliment ha ha. Hope you’ll enjoy your coffee and your view from the window. Oh, yes, Klimt painted Margaret Wittgenstein, for her wedding day if I remember right.


  2. kizitovalentine 10th Feb 2021 at 11:42 am #

    I have always wanted to read Rimbaud but couldnt find a book, thanks to your blog at least I get a glimpse

    Liked by 1 person

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