Who kept running, spangled with electric lunes,
Crazy plank, with escort of black seahorses,
When all the Julys with their cudgels have crushed
Ultramarine skies into burning craters;
I who trembled, and could feel the moans a hundred miles away
Of rutting behemoths and sluggish maelstroms,
Eternal spinner of blue immobilities,
I miss the Europe of ancient parapets!
I have seen sidereal archipelagos! and islands
Whose delirious skies open up for a drifter:
— Is it in these bottomless nights you sleep in exile,
You million golden birds, o Power yet to come? —
“Le Bateau ivre” was written in the traditional French form of rhyming alexandrines. I chose not to keep the rhyme but to translate it into free verse, since (a) I’m not a poet and (b) I find rhyme distracts from meaning — it becomes gimmicky in English, and the weird imagery is what I find most interesting in The Drunken Boat. I have a feeling that if Rimbaud were writing today, he’d write in free verse — but that’s just a hunch… —But then again, he did have a fondness for stunts.