World Literature, in Spanish

Rimbaud and Verlaine

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Jean-Arthur Rimbaud was 13 years old in 1867 upon the death of Charles Baudelaire, who  restarted romantic poetry from the scratch and inaugurated modern poetry.  For his first heirs, the Parnassians, there was too much subjectivism in Les Fleurs du mal, and Paul Verlaine, going a step further, joined the new symbolist school shortly after, searching for expression and sensation as the arguments of the poem. Verlaine was on the process of making this change when in 1870 he met a man 10 years younger, the 17 year old  Jean-Arthur Rimbaud; the few poems he had already published did not follow the rules of any of the schools. From the moment they meet, and for three years, they will live a new experience in the history of poetry: Verlaine, a man of weak character persecuted by his young wife, would open to Rimbaud the doors of the poetic sanctums of Paris and introduce him into the bohemian life of painters and poets; Rimbaud, persecuted by his mother, would give himself to an unknown radicalism: his "change of life" meant becoming a rogue, an enthusiast of the wandering life he shared with Verlaine along three years; this cohabitation is like a ludicrous saga that ended in Brussels with Verlaine firing a shot over Rimbaud: the adventure ended with a bullet wound in the hand of the author of Une saison en enfer and a stay in prison for the author of Poèmes saturniens, from where he would come come out transformed in a religious poet. Life and work combine their fury, their persecutions, their loves and heartbreaks in a way that makes both of them symbols of the poetry from the end of the century: shortly after, Rimabaud will leave everything behind to get lost in the French colonies in Africa and never wrote again; he would never remember again that at one point he was like a comet whose passing left the sanctums amazed. From his side, Verlain will continue with his bohemian life keeping his friend in memory until his death.

Rimabud and Verlain: the strange couple analyzes this key period of the French poetry through the poems of both where life and work are mixed.