Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Drunken Boat

Or to quote a review of the play, Total Eclipse,

"Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder..."

Paul Verlaine

from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Verlaine

Arthur Rimbaud

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Rimbaud

The Film, Total Eclipse (click for a typical overview), presents in drama and hysteria, the relationship of Verlaine and Rimbaud, with just a hint of Rimbaud's poetry. Still, Leonardo DiCaprio does a fine job with Rimbaud's mad dash through French literature and Paul Verlaine's decadence. The film deserves reevaluation. Better still, it should be remade to better embody the passion these two poets consumed for each other and for poetry itself.

From what little I know-- and I plan to read and study them more-- they were monsters, at least to those involved with them and to themselves. Yet such creative monsters. They clearly laid out the future path that ran from themselves to Oscar Wilde to Hart Crane, Lorca, Genet, to the beat poets and such songsters as Dylan, the Doors, Patty Smith, Leonard Cohen and even REM. They revealed the power of the link between same sex love and creative revolt, between being a sexual outcast/outlaw and having artistic genius.

But don't take my word for it; take Arthur's:


Once, if my memory serves me well, my life was a banquet where every heart revealed itself, where every wine flowed.

One evening I took Beauty in my arms-- and I thought her bitter-- and I insulted her.

I steeled myself against justice.

I fled. O witches, O misery, O hate, my treasure was left in your care...

I have withered within me all human hope. With the silent leap of a sullen beast, I have downed and strangled every joy.

I have called for executioners; I want to perish chewing on their gun butts. I have called for plagues, to suffocate in sand and blood. Unhappiness has been my god. I have lain down in the mud, and dried myself off in the crime-infested air. I have played the fool to the point of madness.

And springtime brought me the frightful laugh of an idiot.

Now recently, when I found myself ready to croak! I thought to seek the key to the banquet of old, where I might find an appetite again.

That key is Charity. (This idea proves I was dreaming!)

"You will stay a hyena, etc....," shouts the demon who once crowned me with such pretty poppies. "Seek death with all your desires, and all selfishness, and all the Seven Deadly Sins."

Ah, I've taken too much of that; still, dear Satan, don't look so annoyed, I beg you! And while waiting for a few belated cowardices, since you value in a writer all lack of descriptive or didactic flair, I pass you these few foul pages from the diary of a Damned Soul.


More to come.


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