45THE WANDERER (An Apologia)
- Jul 1, 2001FOOLISH were it in us to attempt following him, even from afar, in this
extraordinary world-pilgrimage of his; the simplest record of which,
clear record possible, would fill volumes.
Hopeless is the obscurity, unspeakable the confusion.
[RIMBAUD] GLIDES from country to country, from condition to condition;
vanishing & reappearing, no man can calculate how or where.
THROUGH ALL quarters of the world he wanders, & apparently through all
circles of society.
IF IN ANY scene, perhaps difficult to fix
geographically, he settles for a time, & forms connections, be sure he
will snap them abruptly asunder.
LET HIM sink out of sight... in some European capital, you may next find
him as Hadjee in the neighborhood of Mecca.
IT IS an inexplicable Phantasmagoria, capricious, quick-changing; as if
Traveller, instead of limbs & highways, had transported himself by some
wishing-carpet, or Fortunatus' Hat. [...]
SO THAT, from this point, the [Poet] is more of an enigma than ever.
IN figurative language, we might say he becomes, not indeed a spirit,
[RIMBAUD] vibrating everywhere between the highest & the lowest levels,
comes into contact with public History itself. [...]
IF WE ASK now, not indeed with what ulterior Purpose, for there was
yet... in what mood of mind, the
[POET] undertook & prosecuted this world-pilgrimage,--the answer is...
"A nameless Unrest," says he, "[that] urged me forward; to which the
outward motion was some momentary lying solace."
"WHITHER should I go? My Loadstars were blotted out; in that canopy of
fire shone no star.
Yet forward must I; the ground burnt under me; there was no rest for the
sole of my foot. I was alone, alone!"
"EVER TOO the strong inward longing shaped Phantasms for itself: towards
these, one after the other, must I fruitlessly wander. A feeling I had,
that for my fever-thirst there was & must be somewhere a healing
"TO MANY fondly imagined Fountains, the Saints' Wells of these days, did
to great Men, to great Cities, to great Events: but found there no
"IN STRANGE COUNTRIES, as in the well-known; in savage deserts, as
in the press of corrupt civilization, it was ever the same: how could
Wanderer escape from-- his own SHADOW?"
"NEVERTHELESS still Forward!"
"I FELT as if in great haste; to do I saw not what. From the depths of
heart, it called to me, Forwards!
The winds & the streams, & all
Nature sounded to me, Forwards!
I was even, once for all,
a Son of Time."
--THOMAS CARLYLE, precognizantly evoking the spirit of "Son of Time"
Arthur Rimbaud, in SARTOR RESARTUS (1833-4).