Je m’en allais, les poings dans mes poches crevees;

Here is a poem from Arthur Rimbaud, the teenage lover of Paul Verlaine. He only wrote poetry for a very few years in his youth; after he and Verlaine fell out, Rimbaud went off to be a trader in East Africa and devoted his life to commerce, not poetry. Rimbaud’s poems are usually quite difficult, but this sonnet seems to me to be one of his more accessible works. In it, we see the poet devoting himself to a Bohemian lifestyle, quite happy to be poor and ragged as long as he has his poetry. That’s a viable choice for a very young man, with or without an older protector, but probably couldn’t go on forever.

Ma Bohème

Je m’en allais, les poings dans mes poches crevées ;
Mon paletot aussi devenait idéal ;
J’allais sous le ciel, Muse ! et j’étais ton féal ;
Oh ! là là ! que d’amours splendides j’ai rêvées !

Mon unique culotte avait un large trou.
– Petit-Poucet rêveur, j’égrenais dans ma course
Des rimes. Mon auberge était à la Grande Ourse.
– Mes étoiles au ciel avaient un doux frou-frou

Et je les écoutais, assis au bord des routes,
Ces bons soirs de septembre où je sentais des gouttes
De rosée à mon front, comme un vin de vigueur ;

Où, rimant au milieu des ombres fantastiques,
Comme des lyres, je tirais les élastiques
De mes souliers blessés, un pied près de mon coeur !

Arthur Rimbaud

From <;

This poem (yet another sonnet of course…) is a study in contrasts between the poet’s physical appearance and circumstances (holes in his pockets and pants, sleeping outside, presumable homeless, his shoes falling apart) with his dedication to the poetic Muse which can inspire him whatever his situation.

The adjectives are all positive and convey a sense of wonder and commitment to poetry at the expense of all else. This is Rimbaud looking on the bright side of life and seeing, feeling and reacting to the beauty and poetic potential of everything around him.

The Poetry Dude


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