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

Gerald Macklin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 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 (in print/issue) - 1984

    Bibliographical note

    Reference text: Rimbaud, Oeuvres, édition de S.Bernard, Garnier, Paris, 1960

    Baudelaire, Oeuvres complètes I, texte établi, présenté et annoté par Claude Pichois, Gallimard, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris, 1976

    Arthur Rimbaud, Illuminations, edited by Nick Osmond, The Athlone Press, London, 1976

    N.Wing Present Appearances:Aspects of Poetic Structure in Rimbaud's Illuminations, Romance Monographs Inc., University, Mississippi, 1974

    J.P.Houston The Design of Rimbaud's Poetry Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1963

    Y.Denis 'Glose d'un texte de Rimbaud: 'H', LES TEMPS MODERNES, 263, 1968, pp. 1878-1887

    S.Bernard Le Poème en prose de Baudelaire jusqu'à nos jours, Nizet, Paris, 1959

    H.Mondor Rimbaud ou le génie impatient, Gallimard, Paris, 1955

    C.A.Hackett Rimbaud, Bowes and Bowes, London, 1957

    J.Plessen Promenade et Poésie. L'Expérience de la marche et du mouvement dans l'oeuvre de Rimbaud, The Hague/Paris , Mouton, 1967

    E.Ahearn ''Entends comme brame' and the theme of death in Rimbaud's poetry', FRENCH REVIEW, vol.43, 1970, pp.407-417

    Rimbaud, Illuminations, edited by Albert Py, Droz, Geneva, 1967

    J.Lawler The Language of French Symbolism, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1969


    • prose poem
    • beginning
    • finale


    Dive into the research topics of ''A Study of Beginnings and Finales in Arthur Rimbaud's Illuminations''. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this