Around ten years ago — from nineteen to twenty, I’d been really into reading French poetry. Baudelaire, Verlaine, Jacques Prévert, Paul Éluard, and Apollinaire...Rimbaud was one of them I chose. My friend at that time likes a translation by Hideo Kobayashi, so that I naturally took it, too.
Particularly we repeatedly discussed his remarkable poem “Eternity”. If you was familiar with French cinema, particularly Nouvelle Vague, you would remember Pierrot the madman directed by Jean-Luc Godard in which the poem is cited at the final scene. The poem begins with these lines below.
It has been found again.
What? – Eternity.
It is the sea fled away
With the sun.
Why we picked it again and again is due to this phrase — “found again”. Original line in French is “Elle est retrouvée”: it means, in direct translation, “It is re-found”. And we can tell that “found again” suggests it was found once, which enables us to understand that it could be found again if one had lost it.
Besides, it is a general creative manner of poetry that the first stanza is recurred in the final stanza. Therefore it takes us to the beginning again. Such circular structure is the representation of the theme, that is to say, “Eternity” in which something is repeated perpetually. Rimbaud shows the theme itself through the structure of the poem. Emily Brontë also uses the circular structure to show the system of life that a lively branch is born and grew over withered one. Her theme is “Eternity” as well.
While the homosexual relation between Rimbaud and Verlaine is always emphasised, he left lots of exquisite poems like “Sensation”, “The Drunken Boat”. As to a Japanese translation, in addition to Kobayashi’s, Chuya Nakahara is also my recommendation.