"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Arthur Rimbaud's "Illuminations" (translated by John Ashbery)

I think what's amazing here is that a magnificent American Poet John Ashbery at the age 83 (or something like that) translated the great poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, whose poems were written when he was in his teens. The ultimate teenage rebel icon touched by the grand poet of American letters, whose work is still controversial and has a bite. One wonders what took so long? 
The truth is in this book, well, kind of. Rimbaud will always be this cloud that floats above us. It is there to be captured and read, but can one ever own the feverish imagery of his poems? Rimbaud's work is in Ashbery's DNA by now. 'Illuminations' is one of those perfect books or even moments, and Ashbery captures the essence and flavor of Rimbaud's vision and words. Mega-important!

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