Rimbaud's vagrant and dissolute life in Paris and England with fellow poet, Paul Verlaine, which ended with a shooting drama in Brussels, is the stuff of legend and led to Rimbaud's being mythologized and idolized, particularly by the French surrealists. His poetry - visionary, unnerving, idiosyncratic, disorientating - has had a profound influence on modern writing. A Season in Hell (1873) reviews his visionary claims for poetry - his ideal of the poet as seer, through the systematic disordering of the senses, of poetry as part of life and of action. His is an agonized, divided voice, pulled in all directions by instabilities of emotion and belief. Illuminations (pub. 1886), an extended prose poem, is both a series of visual images - landscapes, cityscapes, clowns, circuses, interiors - and of mood pictures, with no one voice or identity. Fragmented, hallucinatory, decentred, the poet, in a series of shifting roles, explores pluralistic notions of the self.
Literature & Fiction, Poetry,