'The Significance of the Child in the Poetry of Arthur Rimbaud'

Gerald Macklin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article examines the role of the child and childhood in the poetry of Rimbaud. It deals with childhood innocence, the powerful imaginative vitality of the child, the child as rebel and the idea of the broken family. For Rimbaud the child is a preferential identity ('Enfance IV') and there is a strong case for seeing the child as synonymous with the poet in his eyes. Beginning with the early Poésies, the paper takes examples from 'Le Bateau ivre', 'Les Poètes des sept ans' and 'Les Effarés' to examine the child's imaginative adventures, his rebellion against the authoritarian mother figure and his role as urchin and outcast. In terms of the prose poetry of the Illuminations, the poem 'Enfance' must be given pride of place as it explores the child as creator, the child's experience of exclusion and the child's ability to play many roles at the same time - inventor, walker, mystic and so on. In 'Aube' we find the child engaged in the frantic pursuit of the goddess of the dawn, an allegory of the search for truth and love. The child is seen as utterly at one with nature but the adventure ends in tragedy and anti-climax. It is logical that Rimbaud abandoned poetry with the passing of his own youth and adolescence.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)15-25
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Apr 1981

    Bibliographical note

    Reference text: Rimbaud, Oeuvres complètes, ed. Antoine Adam, Gallimard, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris, 1972

    E.R.Peschel Flux and reflux: ambivalence in the poems of Arthur Rimbaud, Droz, Geneva, 1977

    R.Chambers ''Mémoire' de Rimbaud: essai de lecture', ESSAYS IN FRENCH LITERATURE, vol.5, 1968, pp.22-37

    Baudelaire, Oeuvres complètes, vol.1, texte établi, présenté et annoté par CLAude Pichois, Gallimard, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris, 1975

    N.Wing Present Appearances: aspects of poetic structure in Rimbaud's Illuminations, Romance Monographs Inc., University, Mississippi, 1974


    • child
    • childhood
    • imagination
    • revolt


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