'Le Poème est à réinventer: étude de trois Illuminations'

Gerald Macklin

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    This paper explores poetic structure in the Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud through examination of three specially selected poems from the collection - 'Dévotion', 'Nocturne vulgaire' and 'Métropolitain'. Rimbaud's ironic attitude to his own texts emerges and it is argued that he often starts a poem in a certain way only to move it subsequently in an entirely different direction. Thus 'Dévotion' ultimately seems to distort and parody the very form that it initially appears to espouse - that of the devotional prayer. The concluding stages of the poem explode its apparent structural stability as Rimbaud develops one of his characteristically startling finales. In a different way, 'Nocturne vulgaire' adopts an initial tone and pattern only to subvert these in its second half and finale. The poem abandons the idea of the traditional musical nocturne and replaces it ultimately with images of elemntal ferment and apocalyptic scenes involving the idea of self-immolation. In 'Métropolitain' a related development can be seen to be at work. Dividied into five parts, its last section seems to go against patterns set out in the previous four as Rimbaud appears to grow tired of the original orientation of the piece and opts for a much more urgent, vital and authentic finale. Thus three poems show how texts in the Illuminations are dynamic, mercurial and unpredictable in their tone, content and structure.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLire Rimbaud: Approches critiques (Hommages à James R.Lawler)
    PublisherCanadian Scholars' Press
    ISBN (Print)1-55130-168-7
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2000

    Bibliographical note

    Reference text: Rimbaud Oeuvres, Edition de S. Bernard at A. Guyaux, Classiques Garnier, Paris, 1987

    D. Scott 'Rimbaud and Boucher - 'Fête d'hiver'', JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN STUDIES, IX, 1979, pp. 185-195

    G. M. Macklin 'Rimbaud's 'Trois contes'', FRENCH STUDIES BULLETIN, no. 27, 1987, pp. 10 -12

    J. Thélot La Poésie précaire, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1997

    Arthur Rimbaud, Illuminations ed. Nick Osmond, Athlone French Poets, The Athlone Press, London, 1976

    R. Little 'Light on Rimbaud's 'Baou' ('Dévotion '), FRENCH STUDIES BULLETIN, vol. 10, 1984,
    pp. 3-7

    G. Macklin 'Prayer and Parody in Rimbaud's 'Dévotion'', FRENCH STUDIES, Vol. LI, no. 3, 1997, pp. 281-292

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

    A. Kittang Discours et jeu: Essai d'analyse des textes d'Arthur Rimbaud, Bergen Universitets Forlaget et Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, Bergen and Grenoble, 1975.

    G. Macklin 'Rimbaud's 'Barbare': The Floating and Reverberating Text', NEOPHILOLOGUS, vol. 80, 1996, pp. 41-52

    G. Macklin 'Perspectives on the role of punctuation in Rimbaud's Illuminations', JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN STUDIES, vol. XX, 1990, pp. 59-72


    • structure
    • parody
    • prose poem
    • finale


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