Since I am always reading from the Journals of Sylvia Plath I thought I could post something here. This was written when she was eighteen (!), and her journal entries are outstanding even when she was that young.
I love people. Everybody. I love them, I think, as a stamp collector loves his collection. Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me. My love’s not impersonal yet not wholly subjective either. I would like to be everyone, a cripple, a dying man, a whore, and then come back to write about my thoughts, my emotions, as that person. But I am not omniscient. I have to live my life, and it is the only one I’ll ever have. And you cannot regard your own life with objective curiosity all the time…
This is from the very entertaining book “Rimbaud in Java”, by Jamie James (Editions Didier Millet). I am posting the introduction with their permission, which is amazing… what is amazing is that I asked for permission to do something, but it actually worked!
By the age of twenty-one, Arthur Rimbaud had:
- won first prize for Latin verse composition in a national competition for French schoolboys;
- been arrested and jailed for riding to Paris on the train from his home in Charleville without paying the fare;
- returned to Paris on foot around the time of the Commune of 1871, where he lived on the streets for two weeks and then walked back to Charleville, a distance of 200 kilometres each way;
- come to Paris – again on his own, for the third time – to live as the protégé of an established poet, Paul Verlaine, whom he had never met;
- run away from Verlaine to live in a flophouse on the boulevard Saint-Michel, where he drank absinthe and smoked hashish daily;
- written (at sixteen) “The Drunken Boat,” a classic of French lyric poetry;
- stabbed the photographer Étienne Carjat in a drunken argument at a poetry reading;
- seduced Verlaine into abandoning his wife and ten-month-old son to follow him first to Brussels and then to London, where they lived openly as lovers;
- quarrelled with Verlaine, who shot him in the wrist, a crime for which the elder poet was tried and sentenced to two years in prison;
- published a book based in part on his affair with Verlaine, A Season in Hell, which has become a basic text of modern world literature;
- returned to London to live with another poet, Germain Nouveau;
- studied German in Stuttgart;
- crossed the Alps on foot;
- worked as a longshoreman in Leghorn;
- enlisted in Marseilles as a mercenary in the Carlist army in revolutionary Spain, but deserted before being assigned to a regiment;
- studied (in addition to English and German) Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Russian, Greek, Arabic, Hindi and Amharic; and
- learned to play the piano.