Academic journal article Transnational Literature

Rimbaud's Cities II / Magic Lantern Slides

Academic journal article Transnational Literature

Rimbaud's Cities II / Magic Lantern Slides

Article excerpt

-themselves are cities- For those who live in them, imcomprehensible mountains-an empire's names-remake themselves in light- Afloat in distance, on its high peaks, steeprooved houses, their dazzling windows, slide sideways now on rails- Its soundless machinery of pulleys and ropes- Now Vesuvius, lit through smoke, bright swarm adrift in its closed circle- The blank flesh of colossal statues- Copper palm trees aflame with the sound of bells- Long canals flooded with light- Streets narrowing back to that vanishing point, behind the houses, where love feasts on itself- Its bells ring back down those gulfs- More than life-size, its singers hurry forwards, mouths opening and closing- The light on their banners is the same as the light on its frozen Alps- Over the viewing platform, its abyss, the Green Knight rides forever in his painted wood- Along the handrails at the edge of its precipice, like light through cloud a white ray hangs rags of drapery, tourist villages which flap and swell-and each thing becomes itself in vanishing- Angelic centuar-girls plunge back into its soundless avalanche- Over its mountains, waves pour back from that place where Venus is rising still out of the sea, complete with zephyrs, a redolence of south sea pearls and rare shells - Sea darkening intermittently with blotches, scratches on its lens glass- Sumptuous flowers, outspread like a battlefield, crying when the wind pours through- One by one its May Queens, dressed in russet, opaline, rise up out of its precipice- In the distance, at the source, standing in the waterfall, in the tangled vines, Diana's deer drink from the goddess- The bacchantes of the suburbs cry without sound- Over them the moon burns, raving, and Venus steps into the bedsits of loners and blacksmiths- Everywhere the belltowers ring with people's thoughts- Ossuaries, palaces, have unheard-of music- Cloud by cloud the myths rise- Their gods walk in the streets, this paradise folding tempest by tempest back into itself-and Caliban is dancing in his island, night- One time I stepped into a Baghdad street-road-gangs singing the day's work, the wind in my face-circling its Round City without ever escaping the backdrop of those hallucinatory mountains that the two of us were going to cross to safety-

Now what hand, what gentle hour, will return me to that province, home of my sleep, and the least of my gestures? …

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