Arthur Rimbaud wrote all his poems as a very young man or as a teenager, but this poem shows how self-aware he was and how he could capture a moment and a feeling in the turbulent life of a young man. It is morning, and presumably the poet has been out carousing through the night, maybe he is not quite sober, but as the morning comes what does he notice but the handsome workers beginning the early shift. So the poet’s good thought of the morning is to fantasise about the charms of the muscular manual workers going to begin their labours.
So, perhaps more of a lust poem than a love poem, but beautifully written all the same.
Arthur RIMBAUD (1854-1891)
Bonne pensée du matin
A quatre heures du matin, l’été,
Le sommeil d’amour dure encore.
Sous les bosquets l’aube évapore
L’odeur du soir fêté.
Mais là-bas dans l’immense chantier
Vers le soleil des Hespérides,
En bras de chemise, les charpentiers
Dans leur désert de mousse, tranquilles,
Ils préparent les lambris précieux
Où la richesse de la ville
Rira sous de faux cieux.
Ah ! pour ces Ouvriers charmants
Sujets d’un roi de Babylone,
Vénus ! laisse un peu les Amants,
Dont l’âme est en couronne.
Ô Reine des Bergers !
Porte aux travailleurs l’eau-de-vie,
Pour que leurs forces soient en paix
En attendant le bain dans la mer, à midi.
The progression of the poem goes from abstract thoughts of love in the first stanza, following a night of partying, perhaps; through growing awareness of the physical charms of the workers in the middle stanzas; and ending up in the final stanza the thought that he can perhaps go and meet them at mid-day when they go to bathe in the sea at mid-day after their shift ends.
Maybe he got lucky…
The Poetry Dude