Unlike many of my other subjects this month, I really don't know a lot about Rimbaud. I first heard his name in the movie Eddie and the Cruisers (too embarrassed to include a link) and, other than random paging through books in bookstores -- and a bit of research leading up to this post -- I haven't read much of his work. But what I've seen has a certain ineffable glow to it that brings to mind my other favorite poets, so he's been on my "back-burner" to-read list for a long time.
Rimbaud sometimes included shocking and grotesque imagery in his poems, but he painted vivid pictures even with "tame" words...
Clear water; like the salt of childhood tears,(from Memory, translated by Wallace Fowlie) He also was an early explorer of the poetic use of flowing prose:
the assault on the sun by the whiteness of women’s bodies;
the silk of banners, in masses and of pure lilies,
under the walls a maid once defended
O my good! O my beautiful! Atrocious fanfare where I won’t stumble! enchanted rack whereon I am stretched! Hurrah for the amazing work and the marvelous body, for the first time! It began amid the laughter of children, it will end with it....(from Morning of Drunkenness, translated by John Ashbery) You can feel the hangover in that, can't you? :-)
Little eve of drunkenness, holy! were it only for the mask with which you gratified us. We affirm you, method! We don’t forget that yesterday you glorified each one of our ages. We have faith in the poison. We know how to give our whole lives every day.
Behold the time of the Assassins.
Lastly, I wanted to give you one more that can't be found via Googling... My subject for the letter "I" translated Rimbaud's fantastically synaesthetic poem Voyelles ("Vowels") and included it in her book Sword of Wisdom. I like this translation much better than the ones that can be found more easily, but I had to retype it myself... I take responsibility for any typos...
A black, E white, I red, U green, O blue --
Vowels, I'll tell your hidden origin!
A, swarthy coat of glistening flies that whine
Round disenchanting stenches there below
E, white of curtain-mist, the glacier's proud
Spear-shaft, pale kings, rustle of umbel-bloom
I, lovely in ire or sad delirium
The crimson laughing lips that have spat blood
U, tides, celestial murmur of green seas
Peace of herd-scattered pasture, wrinkled peace --
Alchemy's imprint on a studious brow
O, the last trumpet of strange stridencies
Omega, violet radiance of Her Eyes --
Aeons and Worlds rise through their silence now!