'Aspects of the Rimbaldian Prose Poem: Pattern and Disorder in the Illuminations'

Gerald Macklin

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    The article sets out to consider a number of formal features of the Illuminations and proceeds from this basis to suggest an approach to the Rimbaldian prose poem. Central to the paper is the argument that, while Rimbaud clearly turns to prose poetry as a means of emancipation from the restrictive conventions of verse, the Illuminations are by no means an example of random or unstructured writing. Rather they should be viewed as texts in which Rimbaud exploits the freedom from traditional rules of prosody while simultaneously developing new formal patterns which become defining characteristics of his version of the prose poem. The article anlayses several specific features of these prose poems which either create recognizable forms or structures in the collection or, alternatively, destabilize them by engendering an artistically fasinating discontinuity. In the former category are included Rimbaud's consciously fashioned beginnings and finales, his numerous litanical patterns and his adoption of the "conte" model in several pieces. In the latter category the paper considers Rimbaud's use of odd or foreign terms, his unpredictable rhythmical variations and his highly unconventional deployment of punctuation. Finally, it is argued that this blend of pattern and disorder is a typically Rimbaldian reconciliation of opposites and a key principle of his prose poetry.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)248-292
    JournalOrbis Litterarum
    Publication statusPublished - 1990


    • prose poem
    • structure
    • pattern
    • disorder


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