Who feels, whining by electric lunes,
Crazy plank, regretted by black seahorses
When the Julys have watched cudgel blows to
ultramarine skies of ardent funnels ;
I, who was—is—sleeping in 50 leagues amid
The rutting of Behemoths and thick Maelstroms
Eternal spinner of blue immobilities,
I exile myself from Europe and its ancient parapets !
I have cried at sidereal archipelagos ! and those islands
Where delirious skies are open to the wanderer :
Is it there in these nights without end where you possess and you inflate
millions of golden birds, o future Vigor ?
I can’t imagine what Rimbaud would have made of Oulipo—he might have delighted in its subtle and intricate nose-thumbings at traditional literature, or he might have found it all a load of bullshit. All the same, I decided to try out a modified version of the Oulipian exercise, N+7, on this particular section of Le Bateau Ivre.
In the original Oulipian exercise, nouns in a selected text are replaced with the next noun counted seven down in the dictionary. However, since Rimbaud’s work is so much about the paradox of active inaction/inactive action, I modified N+7 to V+7, and replaced verbs counted seven down within The Drunken Boat itself. This way, I could stay within Rimbaud’s own vocabulary, inside the confinement (constraint) of the boat-poem.