The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday

By Arthur Rimbaud
Translated by Wyatt Mason


No one's serious at seventeen.
--On beautiful nights when beer and lemonade
And loud, blinding cafés are the last thing you need
--You stroll beneath green lindens on the promenade.

Lindens smell fine on fine June nights!
Sometimes the air is so sweet that you close your eyes;
The wind brings sounds--the town is near--
And carries scents of vineyards and beer. . .


--Over there, framed by a branch
You can see a little patch of dark blue
Stung by a sinister star that fades
With faint quiverings, so small and white. . .

June nights! Seventeen!--Drink it in.
Sap is champagne, it goes to your head. . .
The mind wanders, you feel a kiss
On your lips, quivering like a living thing. . .


The wild heart Crusoes through a thousand novels
--And when a young girl walks alluringly
Through a streetlamp's pale light, beneath the ominous shadow
Of her father's starched collar. . .

Because as she passes by, boot heels tapping,
She turns on a dime, eyes wide,
Finding you too sweet to resist. . .
--And cavatinas die on your lips.


You're in love. Off the market till August.
You're in love.--Your sonnets make Her laugh.
Your friends are gone, you're bad news.
--Then, one night, your beloved, writes. . .!

That night. . .you return to the blinding cafés;
You order beer or lemonade. . .
--No one's serious at seventeen
When lindens line the promenade.


I adore Rimbaud in general, but this poem particularly appeals to me because it's June, and the narrator is imagining someone -- himself at that age, or someone who reminds him of himself -- experiencing such heady erotic pleasures. There was a time and place where seventeen was considered the age of sexual awakening, not the age too young to be allowed to think about such things, and it's refreshing to get a reminder...

I have been at kids' graduations for most of the day, so I am really mystified about the LiveJournal zombie posting business -- I basically didn't read LJ today because I had very little time and what time I did have did not allow for figuring out the zombie business, so hope it was fun! I got up bright and early to drive to what will soon be older son's high school, which was hosting his middle school promotion. There were over 300 kids, so thankfully they did not read everyone's names but printed them in a booklet, had a few speeches by teachers and students and showed a DVD made by the media classes (which are terrific at this school) of three years of middle school life -- very witty and well-edited. The chorus sang as well -- son even had a one-line solo -- and a string quartet played "Pomp and Circumstance" which I have now heard enough times not to need to hear it for another three years.

apaulled and I took older son to Bagel City for his post-graduation lunch since that was his choice, then the former went to work and the latter and I stopped at Music & Arts Center to get younger son the music book for Pirates of the Caribbean, which he has been trying to figure out on the violin for weeks. The book comes with an accompaniment CD so I am hoping to have a full Pirates orchestral sound in my house. We also stopped to pick out Father's Day cards for various fathers and grandfathers, plus anniversary cards for various married relatives. Younger son came bounding home with several friends in tow just as a thunderstorm was starting, so I had lots of boys here playing with Legos because it was unsafe to go outside and I didn't want the computers or video games on with the electricity flickering.

In the evening we drove through another storm to younger son's graduation in the hot and humid theater of the high school that's my alma mater, which was kind of neat in principle before I started to wilt. The elementary school graduation was much longer and more boring than the middle school one, despite having less than 1/3 as many kids, because they read all the names and let a number of the kids make pretentious speeches and had all the teachers and administrators talk too long. Remarkably, the kids were better behaved than a lot of the adults! They sang "Unwritten" and the new school theme song (which is so bad you want to go home and listen to Air Supply or something). The best part, again, was the media presentation, which they gave each child to take home on DVD, with pictures of all the kids as babies plus lots of school footage. This is the last graduating class before the elementary school building where both my kids attended is torn down and rebuilt, so it's very nostalgic.

The elementary school Class of 2007 sang at graduation, conducted by the music teacher.

This is the quilt that the fifth grade made to hang up in the new school building. Each student made a square. I hope they got it out of the building in the raging thunderstorms less damp than our clothes were!

Parents were constantly up out of their seats blocking the aisles to take photos, and screaming -- really screaming -- for their kids. There was one little girl graduating from the autism program (the school houses the county's largest program) who sat holding her ears and practically crawled across the stage for her diploma because the crowd and noise terrified her so much.

The middle school principal addressed the crowd as students looked on from onstage and in the audience. The parents were better behaved here and listened to her.

The chorus sang that graduation song that's to the melody of Pachelbel's Canon -- I can't remember the name! Something about being friends forever. They played it in the DVD at younger son's graduation too.

Lots of school scenes and funny skits made up the video presentation.

The kids recessed out in rather disorderly fashion as the string quartet struggled to be heard over them, finally liberated.

In my brief moments of surfing news sites, this Times of London story both made my day and made me sad: made my day because of the 100 year old whale that apparently eluded hunters for decades, made me sad because it is no more. Oh, and could someone from California explain the so-called "Pet Extinction Bill" to me? I've come across people passionately arguing both sides, and I'm still not entirely certain even from news sources what the bill would actually do. Tomorrow is Official Last Day of School for younger son (he has to go if he wants his George Bush Presidential Scholar certificate at the awards ceremony :p). I will catch up on comments and I promise not to talk so much!

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