Rimbaud III

Mes petites amoureuses

FROM ‘MARA, MARIETTA’
Part Five Chapter 6

Rimbaud became your hero. On your wall you pinned Rimbaud et son ombre, the sketch by Cazals: Your resemblance to the poet in this pencil drawing—the carelessly-cropped hair, the finesse of the profile—confirmed your affinity with him.

Cazals, Rimbaud et son ombre

Verlaine, Rimbaud à Paris

Next to Cazal’s sketch you pinned Verlaine’s drawing, Rimbaud à Paris: Hand in pocket, hat on head, he stands in profile, smoking his pipe. For you a Gitane would do: Sitting on your bed, you’d blow smoke rings of love to the boy whose poetry so engaged your emotion.

MES PETITES AMOUREUSES | MY LITTLE LOVES
Rimbaud | tr. Wyatt Mason

Un hydrolat lacrymal lave
Les cieux vert-chou
Sous l’arbre tendronnier qui bave,
Vos caoutchoucs

Blancs de lunes particulières
Aux pialats ronds,
Entrechoquez vos genouillères,
Mes laiderons !

Nous nous aimions à cette époque,
Bleu laideron !
On mangeait des oeufs à la coque
Et du mouron !

Un soir, tu me sacras poète,
Blond laideron :
Descends ici, que je te fouette
En mon giron ;

J’ai dégueulé ta bandoline,
Noir laideron ;
Tu couperais ma mandoline
Au fil du front.

Pouah ! mes salives desséchées,
Roux laideron,
Infectent encor les tranchées
De ton sein rond !

A teary tincture slops
Over cabbage-green skies:
Beneath saplings’ dewy drops,
Your white raincoats rise

With strange moons
And ripe spheres,
Knock your knees together,
My ugly little dears.

How we loved each other once:
Eating chickweed
And soft-boiled eggs,
My ugly, blue-eyed dear

One night you hailed me poet:
You hopped on my lap
For a spanking,
My ugly, blonde dear

Your brilliantine made me puke:
Your heavy brow
Could break a guitar,
My ugly, dark-haired dear

My dry jets of sputum,
Fester between
Your round breasts,
My ugly, red-headed dear

Ô mes petites amoureuses,
Que je vous hais !
Plaquez de fouffes douloureuses
Vos tétons laids !

Piétinez mes vieilles terrines
De sentiment ;
– Hop donc ! soyez-moi ballerines
Pour un moment !…

Vos omoplates se déboîtent,
Ô mes amours !
Une étoile à vos reins qui boitent
Tournez vos tours !

Et c’est pourtant pour ces éclanches
Que j’ai rimé !
Je voudrais vous casser les hanches
D’avoir aimé !

Fade amas d’étoiles ratées,
Comblez les coins !
– Vous crèverez en Dieu, bâtées
D’ignobles soins !

Sous les lunes particulières
Aux pialats ronds,
Entrechoquez vos genouillères,
Mes laiderons !

My little loves:
I hate you.
I hope your ugly tits blossom
With painful sores.

You trample my stores
Of feeling;
And then, voilà: you dance
For me once more.

Your shoulders dislocate,
My loves.
Stars brand your hobbled hips
While you do your worst.

And yet, for these sides of beef,
I made the lines above:
Hips I should have broken,
I filled with acts of love.

Guileless clumps of fallen stars
Accumulate below;
Saddled with trifling concerns
You’ll die with God, alone.

Beneath strange moons
And ripe spheres,
Knock your knees together
My ugly little dears!

FROM ‘MARA, MARIETTA’
Part Ten Chapter 10

Is one ever finished with adolescence, then? … And what about Gudrun’s ingenious transcription of this dangerous passage? Neither Narcissus bedazzled by her new-found sex nor a nymph bent on seduction, she did not recoil before her discoveries nor rush into deploying her powers; no, her rocking before me demanded nothing but recognition. Thus I offered her Rimbaud, an interpretation for her sensations, a fellow adolescent about to walk the world.

Egon Schiele, Portrait of Edith Schiele, 1918

FROM ‘MARA, MARIETTA’
Intermezzo 1: Lilo

We speak of Egon Schiele, dead at twenty-eight. Lilo says she likes the drawings on her wall, but she prefers Egon’s earlier work. I agree that Edith’s too old to be a girl like Rimbaud (my first gift to Lilo) but not Gerti, Wally and the working-class girls.

FROM ‘MARA, MARIETTA’
Intermezzo 10: Bettina

̶  Yes. It’s pure cinema. It struck a chord in me, as a girl.
̶  And as a boy?
̶  I’m not Rimbaud.

Paul Klee, Scene Among Girls, 1923

Paul Klee, Veil Dance, 1920

FROM ‘MARA, MARIETTA’
Part Ten Chapter 4

̶  But what if she never decides?

I jump in to answer Brynjar’s question:

̶̶ Then she’ll be an artist, a dancer.
̶ A dancer?
̶ Yes. She’ll run garlands from star to star and she’ll dance.
̶ Sprague, what are you saying?
̶ I’m saying that in the house of the soapmaker, those who don’t fall learn how to dance.

Suspended between delight and unease, Brynjar hestitates. I myself am surprised by my pirouette from the poem to the proverb. Why do I always associate Rimbaud with girls’ becoming? Because of you, of course! Because of your evocation—way back when, in our conversation on the floor—of what this boy has meant to you.

̶̶  Maybe, Sprague. Maybe she’ll become a dancer.
̶  I think she will.