Monsieur Rimbaud is Walking

 Monsieur Rimbaud is Walking


Monsieur Rimbaud is walking. To Paris.  And back.  To Paris again.  Across the alps.  To Marseille.  And back, again.
He sleeps rough, in barns and hedges.
He is a teenage seer.
He says - I is somebody else.
He walks, and he writes.
He is scandalous. He outpaces them all.  
He knows he is a vagabond other.

Ranging the Abyssinian highlands, savage, bitter and alone.  Mouth hardened and the seer saw lunar landscapes, burnt horizons, his own life decapitated.  Walked long miles across the desert alongside his caravan, not riding a camel as most men would have done. What is the life of a man when seen from afar? - down the wrong end of a telescope.

I met a man from Harar, once a poet, prodigy of divine utterance, who cast spells on any who dared approach and tormented them with his heedlessness.  Then left.  Walked off.  Thin and very tall.  Always walking.  Striding, as he'd done to Paris from the Belgian border, down to the South and across the alps and back; each journey done many times, with its comfortless ditch-beds and leaf-meals. Did he receive the kindness of strangers? He said he was a seer and an other and he was not wrong.  He severed one life and walked into the next.  Then he disappears in the heat-haze, a Giacometti stick man.

He poisoned two thousand dogs, traded in guns and ivory, conversed with camel drivers, mercenaries, kings and missionaries; gave his shoes to a man who had none, walked with his beasts and never rode them.  He lived the meaning of alone, tore up the papers of fools, kept his ledgers and slept nowhere his guests could see.

His face, once angelic, was by the time he died at thirty seven, drawn, carved with the privations of his journeys, but those eyes of unsettling intensity remain undimmed.

I salute you Arthur Rimbaud lux aeterna.  And the mantra in which your whole life passes before you - je est un autre.  You knew, before knowing how or what or why.

Finally the leg was amputated.  No more walking.  Walker, poet, prodigy, renegade son, upstart, refugee, trader, fugitive, Arabist, photographer, traveller, amputee, dead.



Caroline is a photographer, who uses black and white film which she processes and prints from in her darkroom. Recently she has been working on a series of photographs of surgeries taken in operating theatres, in Oxford, where she lives. She is also trying to finish writing a novel. She has practised Buddhism in the Dzogchen tradition for over two decades, and has a twenty three year old son.

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