Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891): Vocalisations

Voyelles
without using “e”

A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, O bleu: voyelles,
Je dirai quelque jour vos naissances latentes:
A, noir corset velu des mouches éclatantes
Qui bombinent autour des puanteurs cruelles,
Golfes d’ombre; E, candeurs des vapeurs et des tentes,
Lances des glaciers fiers, rois blancs, frissons d’ombelles;
I, pourpres, sang craché, rire des lèvres belles
Dans la colère ou les ivresses pénitentes;
U, cycles, vibrements divins des mers virides,
Paix des pâtis semés d’animaux, paix des rides
Que l’alchimie imprime aux grands fronts studieux;
O, suprême clairon plein des strideurs étranges,
Silences traversés des Mondes et des Anges:
– O l’Oméga, rayon violet de Ses Yeux!
A black, (a blank), I blood, U grass, O sky:
I’ll bring to light your backgrounds. Wait a bit.
A, smooth black armour of a flashing fly
Buzzing around a vicious stinking pit,
Dark gulfs; (who?), fair camp-canvas, vapour-drips,
Alp-cusps, snow-kings and shaking fumitory;
I, crimsons, spat blood, luscious laughing lips,
Furious, or only drunk with saying sorry:
U, holy rhythms of a Gaian main,
Calm grazing-grounds of cows, calm brows and brain
That witchcraft furrows, mind-span that absorbs;
O, mighty trump, full-blown with wondrous chords,
Still voids for flights of worlds and spirit-birds.
O, big round O, viola-ray, O Orbs!

Rimbaud perceives the vowels as having colours! Some people perceive musical notes, or musical instruments, in that way: the technical term is synesthesia. These variations were added in 2020 in a blog written for the Rimbaud & Verlaine Society.

A
written by the meteoric young genius
 
X nights, E gulls, I blood, U green, O blue:
I’ll tell your origins in just one jiffy.
First, sleek jet corset of some flies which flew
Like buzz-bombs over sink-holes fiercely whiffy,
 
Dim depths; E, tents, or white condensing drips,
proud snow-crests, virgin kings, the trembling umbel;
I, crimsons, blood-gouts, luscious chortling lips,
Once furious, or drunk, but now quite humble:
 
U, holy rhythms of the snot-green brine,
Furrows incised on brows, whose chemistries
Conjure gold spells; quiet greenbelt strewn with kine;
 
O, mighty trump, full-blown with wondrous chords,
Still voids for flights of worlds or spirit-birds:
O, big round O, lobbed violet of those Eyes!

I
by the ne’er-do-well wonder-boy who stole La Mauté’s husband,

A black, E snow, J blood, U green, O blue:
My task: your backgrounds have to be revealed.
A, sleek black corset of a fly that flew
around a swamp malodorous, concealed,

Buzzy; E, canvas tents and puffs of steam,
Proud snowy crests, proud monarchs, trembly umbel;
J, purples, blood-gouts, lovely mouths that stream
Laughter of rage, once drunk perhaps, now humble;

U, holy groundhog throb of snot-green seas,
The peace of beast-strewn pastures, peace of ruts
Dug by dark spells on brows of PhD’s;

O, the last trump, full of strange brazen brays,
Mute tracts traversed by worlds’ and angels’ routes,
O Omega, those eyeballs’ purple rays!

U
by the whippersnapper from Charleville-Mézières,

A black, E white, I blood, X grass, O sky:
Here’s how the whole gang started. Wait a bit.
A, smooth black corset of a flashing fly
prancing atop an evil stinking pit,

black holes; E, canvas tents, condensing drips,
white kings, fierce glacier-spears, the cowslip’s shiver;
I, crimson, spat blood, mirth of lovely lips
Enraged, or tipsy, off to see the shriver;

X, cycles, holy throb of snot-green seas,
The peace of beast-strewn meadows, peace of grooves
That witchcraft scored on brows of PhD’s;

O, the last blast, blown with weird brazen brays,
Still voids traversed by worlds’ and angels’ hooves,
O Orbs, great Omega, viola-rays!

UE
Thank that blatant makar, a faraway castaway at Harar

A night, X snow, I blood, Y grass, O sky:
How did that gang start off, now? Wait a bit.
A, smooth black thorax of a flashing fly
prancing atop an evil stinking pit,

black voids; X, canvas camps and foggy drips,
snow-kings, high glacial swords, a cowslip’s frisson;
I, crimson, spat blood, mirth of tasty lips
Angry, or tipsy, off to find a parson;

Y, holy rhythmic throb of briny snots,
Calm grazing-grass of moo-cows, calm of spraints
That magic’s drawn on brows of toiling swots;

O, mighty blast, blown hard with odd brass brays,
Still voids, tram-tracks of worlds and flying saints:
O Orbs, big Royal Orbs, viola-rays!

O
Arthur Rimbaud scripsit, scalpsit, slurpsit

A black, E white, I red, U green, Z sky:
What lies behind these items? Wait a bit.
A, shiny hull that guards a flashing fly
Buzzing beside an evil stinking pit,

Dark gulfs; E, fair camp-canvas, misty drips,
Alp-cusps, pale kings and lilies vacillating;
I, scarlet, spat red cells, sweet laughing lips,
Irate, unless half-cut with exculpating:

U, cycles, drums that grace a Gaian main,
Calm heifers’ pastures ; tranquil temples, brain
Adept at study, wrinkled by witchcraft;

Z, mighty trumpet-blast, replete with genius,
Vacuums where angels flit and planets waft:
Z, zigzag Z-ray, plump and purple Zinnias!

EEEEE
Extreme verses! We’ve kept the E, we’ve eschewed the rest,
we never needed them. We persevered!

E jet, E sleet, E red, E green, E… See
Whence these emerged! We’re exegetes: we’ll tell.
E, welded vestments the resplendent bee
Needs, when she seeks the sewer’s repellent smell,

Grey depths; E, wet sheens, essences, speedwells,
Ellesmere’s deep-freezes, Re per neve, tents;
E, belched red cells, the glee des lèvres belles:
She’s vexed… let’s see! She’s legless, she repents!

E, wheels, celestes, green meres where petrels breed,
Self-seeded beeves well-rested where they feed,
Experts’ meek temples, trenches hexes pressed;

E, endless sennets, revellers’ blended cheers,
The ether’s messengers, the seven seers;
E, EVEREST, E’S EYES, THE LEVEL BEST!!!

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

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