'A Study of Beginnings and Finales in Arthur Rimbaud's Illuminations'

Gerald Macklin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    This article looks at beginnings and finales in Rimbaud's Illuminations as key structural agents and vital moments of artistic expression. The paper initially looks at a variety of types of introduction to the prose poems in the collection. 'Royauté' and 'Conte', for example, begin like a children's tale while other poems like 'Being beauteous' and 'Les Ponts' offer a visual implant at the outset. Exclamatory openings ['Villes 2', 'Matinée d'ivresse'], openings that attract attention to a character ['Enfance I', 'Antique'], introductions that suggest transcendence ['Solde', 'Nocturne vulgaire', - these are some other categories of beginnings explored in the paper. In terms of finales, the Illuminations is renowned for its one-line finales that introduce mystery, offer philosophical insight or ask a question . 'Parade', 'Jeunesse IV' and 'Matinée d'ivresse' are just some examples of these predilections. 'Conte' and 'Guerre' also illustrate what Bernard sees as one-line finakles that open up new perspectives. Finales often reorientate an entire poem as in 'Ouvriers' and 'Soir historique' while some other finales complete a structural pattern of rise and fall,climax and anti-climax such as 'Conte' and 'Aube' which reflect the structure of the famous verse poem 'Le Bateau ivre'. Finally, a group of poems end with intense elemental imagery as spectacular conclusions to a text - 'Soir historique', 'Angoisse', 'Nocturne vulgaire'. The pattern seen in 'Voylles' where Rimbaud works from Alpha to Omega confirms this special interest in beginnings and finales that is strongly prevalent in the Illuminations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)22-36
    Publication statusPublished - 1984


    • prose poem
    • beginning
    • finale


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