jan 2, 1854 - Arthur Rimbaud
Symbolist author of two collections of prose poems, A Season in Hell (1873) and Illuminations (written 1875 or earlier, published 1886). At the age of 16 he condemned all French poetry as "rhymed prose" and even rejected his hero Baudelaire for being too self-consciously artistic; in his famous "lettre du voyant" (letter of the seer) he proposed "derangement of all the senses" as the first step in becoming a true poet-seer. In writing "I is another" ("JE est un autre"), Rimbaud foreshadowed the surrealist attitude toward the poet as a "modest recording machine" by proclaiming that the poet has to step aside and watch his thoughts unfold, allowing poetry to develop on its own. At the age of 21 Rimbaud declared his writing to be a failure and abandoned it in favor of real-life adventure -- in his case, ill-fated and legendary. Photo courtesy Robert Daeley.
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