The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Saturday


Hellish Night
By Arthur Rimbaud
Translated by Bertrand Mathieu


I've swallowed a terrific mouthful of poison.—Blessings three times over on the impulse that came to me!—My guts are on fire. The poison's violence twists my limbs, deforms me, knocks me down. I'm dying of thirst, I'm choking, I can't scream. It's hell, endless pain! Look how the fire flashes up! I'm burning nicely. Go on, demon!

I'd caught a glimpse of conversion to goodness and happiness, salvation. Can I describe the vision? Hell's atmosphere won't suffer hymns! There were millions of charming people, a sweet spiritual concert, strength and peace, noble ambitions, who knows?

Noble ambitions!

And this is still life!— What if damnation's everlasting! A man who wants to mutilate himself is pretty well damned, right? I think I'm in hell, therefore I am. It's the catechism come true. I'm the slave of my baptism. Parents, you've created my tortures and yours.—Poor nitwit! Hell can't wield power over pagans.— This is still life! Later on, the delights of damnation will be much deeper. A crime, quick, so I can plunge into nothingness in accordance with human law.

Shut up, will you shut up. .. ! There's disgrace and reproaches here—Satan who says the fire's contemptible, who says my temper's desperately silly.— Enough. .. ! Errors they're whispering to me, magic, misleading perfumes, childish music.—And to think I'm dealing in truth, I'm looking at justice: my reasoning powers are sane and sound, I'm ready for perfection. .. Pride.—My scalp is drying up. Help! Lord, I'm scared. I'm thirsty, so thirsty! O childhood, the grass, the rain, the lake water on stones, the moonlight when the hell struck twelve....The devil's in the tower right now. Mary! Holy Virgin...!— Loathing for my blunder.

Out there, aren't those virtuous souls who are wishing me well...? Come...I've got a pillow over my mouth, they won't hear me, they're ghosts. Besides, no one ever thinks of others. Don't come near me. I smell of heresy, that's for sure.

No end to these hallucinations. It's exactly what I've always known: no more faith in history, principles forgotten. I'll keep quiet: poets and visionaries would be jealous. I'm a thousand times richer, let's be miserly like the sea.

Well now! the clock of life stopped a few minutes ago. I'm not in the world any more.— Theology's a serious thing, hell is certainly way down—and heaven's above.—Ecstasy, nightmare, sleep in a nest of flames.

How malicious one's outlook in the country...Satan—Old Scratch——goes running around with the wild grain...Jesus is walking on the blackberry bushes without bending them... Jesus used to walk on troubled waters. The lantern revealed him to us, standing, pale with long brownish hair, on the crest of an emerald wave....

I'm going to unveil all the mysteries: religious mysteries or natural, death, birth, future, past, cosmogony, nothingness. I'm a master of hal— lucinations.

Listen...!

I've got all the talents!— There's no one here and there's someone: I wouldn't want to waste my treasure.—Do you want negro songs, houri dances? Do you want me to disappear, to dive down for the ring? Do you want that? I'm going to make gold. . . remedies.

Then have faith in me, faith is soothing, it guides, it cures. Come, all of you—even the little children—and I'll comfort you, I'll spill out my heart for you,—the marvelous heart!—Poor men, workers! I don't ask for your prayers. With your trust alone, I'll be happy.

—And what about me? All of this doesn't make me miss the world much. I'm lucky not to suffer more. My life was nothing but lovely mistakes, it's too bad.

Bah! let's make every possible ugly face.

We're out of the world, for sure. Not even a sound. My touch has disappeared. Ah, my castle, my Saxony, my willow woods. Evenings, mornings, nights, days. . . I'm worn out!

I should have my hell for anger, my hell for conceit—and the hell of caresses: a concert of hells.

I'm dying of tiredness. It's the grave, horror of horrors, I'm going to the worms! Satan, you joker, you want to melt me down with your charms. I demand it, I demand it! a poke of the pitchfork, a drop of fire. Ah, to come back to life again! To feast my eyes on our deformities.

And that poison, that kiss a thousand times damned! My weakness, the world's cruelty! My God, rpercy, hide me, I always misbehave!—I'm hidden and then again I'm not.

It's the fire flaring up again with its damned!

--------

I had plans with perkypaduan Friday but we're both recovering from different forms of creeping crud (me head, her stomach) and we decided that rather than risk combining germs, we would be better off postponing. So I had a quiet morning at home writing a review of Next Gen's "Manhunt" and having chicken soup. Sooner or later, hopefully it will make my cough go away.

My mother came over in the afternoon with old family videotapes of even older family Super-8 movies that my great uncle either appears in or recorded; we were looking for a couple of specific clips for the memorial service, but we ended up watching my grandparents and my mother's surprise 40th birthday party (I cannot believe she was younger then than I am now) and some ancient footage of my sister and myself with my father's brother and his family, who moved to California while I was in middle school. Now my father's brother is here with his second wife and son who's younger than my older one; we had dinner with them at my parents' tonight. I'm so sad that we're having this big family reunion that my great uncle would have loved to be at for his funeral.

fridayfiver: Hush Your Mouth
1. Do you like the thrill of a chase?
Only if there's a definite end in sight and no real danger along the way. I'm not into danger.
2. What winds you up? Serendipity, nice surprises, promises, sexy kisses.
3. Are you a loud talker? Yes.
4. What comes easy to you? Daydreaming. Appreciating animals and natural beauty. Being a pack rat. Remembering the lyrics to songs I haven't heard in 20 years.
5. What did you dream about recently? That I was visiting my sister in her new house and the bathroom was made entirely of glass at the base of a waterfall.

thefridayfive: Housekeeping
1. Do you consider yourself to be a good housekeeper? Why or why not?
I'm an atrocious housekeeper. I can't be arsed to clean up after other people and I rarely notice dust.
2. Are there any household chores that you enjoy doing? If so, what and why? I don't mind folding laundry, since I control the TV while doing so.
3. Which household chore frustrates/angers you the most? Cleaning the kids' bathroom. Because they're supposed to be doing it themeselves before it becomes so disgusting that I'm the only one who can make a dent.
4. When doing household chores, what do you do to make them seem less of a "chore"? Promise myself that when I'm done, I can do something I want to be doing.
5. Which chore do you find yourself doing most often, and why? Cleaning out the refrigerator. Because food going bad is really scary.


An emperor newt at the National Zoo. Those orange spots contain poison released by pressure, like from a predator's bite.


Oriental fire-bellied toads have bright undersides that warn predators that their skin is poisonous.


Solomon island leaf frogs hatch as pea-sized frogs and never go through a tadpole stage.


A blue-tongued skink, who is in fact a reptile rather than an amphibian, also lives in the Reptile House at the National Zoo.


And this colorful blue-tailed skink (which is also a reptile) lives at Gettysburg National Battlefield, where I saw it last autumn.
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Watched the season finale of Flash Gordon, by which title I hope Sci-Fi means they intend to bring the show back after Battlestar Galactica is gone (I'm betting it's a lot less expensive, with its cast of relatively unknown Canadians and its cheesy effects). They've already got a conflict set up for next season -- Aura versus Terek over how to deal with Ming's followers and the conflicts on Mongo, with this season's story about Flash's father and the Imex wrapped up (I totally loved his parents' reunion, I suck that way). On the one hand, I can't believe I like that silly show, but then I look at the women on serious genre TV who make me want to cry and I realize that Baylin, Aura and even Dale -- who is played by an actress who makes Kristin Kreuk look deep -- really make me happy. And Nora Gordon, too, who has a lot in common with Martha Kent.

Then watched Stargate: Atlantis' "Trio," which I liked a lot until the very end because clearly they are planning the Trek/B5/BSG "let's just throw every girl at every guy until some couple takes" pre-adolescent approach to writing relationships, which just, arrrgh! I completely howled over the Clooney-Pitt discussion and then Rodney insisting that he is too secure in his masculinity but he's still not playing the Redford-Newman game, then announcing he'd take Jon Stewart over both Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert...when they had the whole discussion over Sam not liking Zelenka, I was SO waiting for Jennifer to ask Rodney, "So, Zelenka or Sheppard?"

And they had so much fun with Rodney's macho issues over Sam being better with a grappling hook and having to play the hero, and the breakup with Katie...but then Jennifer goes and asks him out! Without adding what should be the obvious "It's just a beer, Rodney, I'm not trying to date you, I have a teeny thing for Ronon!" I couldn't care about the lack of McShepping, but give me a break on Jennifer testing the waters with all the men on the station. And as for Sam...she's Rodney's superior officer, why didn't she just say fuck Rodney's insecurities, there are lives at stake, and order him to let him throw the grappling hook? No, I must say that there is not vast improvement since Elizabeth's tenure and I am still resisting liking this show for all of the above reasons, even though I have fun with it.

Here in The Washington Post is an obituary and photo of my Uncle Paul.
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