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This poem is taken from PN Review 169, Volume 32 Number 5, May - June 2006.

From Rimbaud: 'Les Illuminations' John Brian Aspinall

These versions have their origin in my vague but persisting regret that Rimbaud took to prose for 'Les Illuminations' and 'Une Saison en Enfer'. I've tried to preserve his ideas and imagery while producing effective English verse.

Lovers of 'Les Illuminations' may be irritated both by my concept and by the liberties I've taken trying to realise it. My excuse is that writing these has increased my admiration for the originals. I hope that reading them may do the same.


After the Flood

After the flood a hare crouches
amid spiderwebs and swaying clover
as if praying to the rainbow.
A door slams. On the village green
a child semaphores,
understood by the weathercock.

The moon resumes its wolves.
In the dripping greenhouse
the mourners of the drowned exclaim
at the marvellous tomatoes.
Morning girls in mauve
sandals grumble in the orchard.

Booths reopen on the scumwashed
...


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