THE BLACK WOLVES AND BLACK DEMONS OF LOVE

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A Winter Dream

by Arthur Rimbaud

In Winter we`ll travel in a little pink carriage

With cushions of blue.

We`ll be fine. A nest of mad kisses waits

In each corner too.

          You`ll shut your eyes, not to see, through the glass,

          Grimacing shadows of evening,

          Those snarling monsters, a crowd going past

          Of black wolves and black demons.

Then you`ll feel your cheek tickled quite hard…….

A little kiss, like a maddened spider,

Will run over your neck……

          And you`ll say: “Catch it!” bowing your head,

          — And we`ll take our time finding that creature

          — Who travels so far……

Arthur Rimbaud had a strict mother with whom he thought it wise to tow the line; his father, who had successfully sired four children, simply disappeared one day, a rabbit vanishing back into the hat. Rimbaud who was bright and the best student for miles excelled in French and the classics, but his real love was poetry, which he trawled his local bookshop for. Paris was the alluring literary beacon of his young life; he had a spiritual hunger for the place which would only be quietened by going there. So, he ran away from home, and on arrival in the capital, was immediately arrested for short changing on his rail fare, was bailed out by his school teacher and sent packing back home. Undeterred, the next year he fired off a letter and poems to his favourite poet, Paul Verlaine, who replied: “Come, dear great soul, we call you, we await you.” 1871 was a grim time to be in Paris; the Prussians had invaded, and Paris had declared itself a commune; without Verlaine`s help, it`s doubtful if the 17 year old Rimbaud would have survived long. On finding his benefactor what he saw was a rather ugly man with an over large nearly bald head, a face which appeared to have been shoved inwards by a violent blow, and a chin to which a few sparse, wispy hairs were valiantly clinging onto for dear life as a way of compensating for the lack of hair further up. He was also an inveterate drunk, terminally lazy, an incorrigible groper of young men, and someone who would be known in his lifetime as an impious and brutal husband. But he was home to a mass of contradictions which enabled him through his literary works to appear as a stout defender of married bliss and the church. His mood swings could experience all four seasons in one day. Verlaine and Rimbaud took to each other like ducks to water: even marriage wouldn`t prevent Verlaine looking at ways to shunt his wife into the matrimonial sidings and enjoy the juicy physical and intellectual fruits which Rimbaud provided. Their romantic liaison became notorious among the Parisians of the day constantly on the look out for moral decadence and corruption, which led to Valade calling out Rimbaud as “Satan in the midst of the doctors.” The novelty of Rimbaud`s presence very quickly soured among the Parisian chattering classes, as his loutish behaviour turned him from angel to insufferable, obnoxious boor in the blink of an eye. Only the besotted Verlaine couldn`t see the disruptive fault lines in Rimbaud`s personality. The overwhelming power of Rimbaud`s sexual attraction had come home to roost in Verlaine`s mind and would set the course of his life. It was the two love doves against the world: as it was in the beginning, and always shall be. Amen.

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