'Epiphany, Identity, Celebration: Towards a Definition of the Rimbaldian poème-fête'

Gerald Macklin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    This article explores the phenomenon of the poème-fête in all areas of Rimbaud's poetry. It adopts a broadly chronological approach to the Rimbaud canon, working from the early verse poems through the experimental verse of the Derniers Vers and on to the prose poetry of Une Saison en enfer and the Illuminations. The argument posits the fête as a key component of Rimbaldian vision and highlights epiphany, identity and celebration as its three defining characteristics. Two early poems selected for analysis, 'Soleil et chair' and 'Bal des pendus', are presented respectively as illustrations of Rimbaud's proclivity for celebration and revelation and of the poet's ironic detachment from any collective identity. This ambivalence is explored further through 'Qu'est-ce pour nous, mon coeur...?' from the Derniers Vers where he oscillates between a collective commitment to revolution and a withdrawal into the isolation of first person identity. The section on Une Saison en enfer examines two specific instances of Rimbaldian celebration, the study concluding with discussion of several poems from the Illuminations which offer various further perspectives on epiphany, identity and celebration. The closing pages speculate on what the poème-fête may tells us about the problematics of solitude and partnership in Rimbaud's work.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19-31
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


    • fête
    • epiphany
    • identity
    • celebration


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