chapter  4
10 Pages

Rimbaud the ‘voyant’

WithCharles Chadwick

Rimbaud’s meteoric career as a poet began in 1870 before he was sixteen and was over by 1875 before he was twenty-one. Rimbaud’s paradise, however, is very different from Baudelaire’s. No doubt because he was so much younger and had led so restricted a life in the oppressive atmosphere of the small town of Charleville in north-eastern France, where he had been brought up by a harsh and domineering mother, his ideal world is not the quiet and peaceful refuge that Baudelaire longs for. It should be added that these were things that Rimbaud too had only imagined since at that date he had never even seen the sea. Unlike Baudelaire he did not have the resources of a wide experience of life to draw upon for his imagery. Like Baudelaire, Rimbaud thus fails in his attempt to penetrate beyond reality to an ideal world.