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from Illuminations:
Marine              français

Translated by Holly Tannen

"Marine and "Mouvement' are the only poems in Illuminations in free verse. Both evoke sea crossings, most likely the passage from Oostend to Dover. "Marine" seems to be Rimbaud's response to his first experience of the sea.

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Chariots of copper and silver
Prows of silver and steel -
Thresh the foam, -
Plough up the roots of the thornback.*

Currents of the heath
And boundless ruts of ebb tide,
Swirl in circles toward the east,
Toward the pillars of the forest, -
Toward the trunks of the pier,
Its edge struck by whirlwinds of light.

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* Once again, Rimbaud's wordplay makes translation difficult. Souche means both the stump or root of a tree, and the founder of a lineage. Ronce means bramble or blackberry, and also the flat fish called a ray. The thornback is a species of ray.

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Les chars d'argent et de cuivre
Les proues d'acier et d'argent -
Battent l'écume, -
Soulèvent les souches des ronces.
Les courants de la lande,
Et les ornières immenses du reflux,
Filent circulairement vers l'est,
Vers les piliers de la forêt, -
Vers les fûts de la jetée,
Dont l'angle est heurté par des tourbillons de lumière.

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     Holly Tannen teaches folklore and anthropology, and has lectured on contemporary magic at U.C. Berkeley and at Yale University. Her recordings include "Invocation", "Between the Worlds", and "Rime of the Ancient Matriarch"

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Michael Potts, webster updated 25 April 2002 : 17:52 Caspar (Pacific) time

All text, translations, and songs copyright © 2002 by Holly Tannen