ISBN: PB: 9781784106638
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Arthur Rimbaud's "Illuminations", first published in 1886, changed the language of poetry; in John Ashbery the book has a translator whose virtuosic originality brings Rimbaud's visions to life in English. The "crystalline jumble" of Illuminations, John Ashbery writes, is still emitting pulses of energy. "If we are absolutely modern – and we are – it's because Rimbaud commanded us to be".
Ashbery's translation relays the kaleidoscopic dazzle of the original, a Splendide Hotel 'built amid the tangled heap of ice floes and the polar night', where the Witch "will never want to tell us what she knows, and which we do not know".
Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) was born in Charleville, Ardennes. His creativity coincided with his turbulent relationship with Paul Verlaine in his late teens. All his poetry was written before he was 21. He gave up writing and began to travel, spending 11 years in the port town Aden in Abyssinia (Yemen). Ill, he returned to France and died of cancer in a Marseilles hospital.