Date of Award

Summer 1953

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Advisor

Pitou, Spisz

Second Advisor

Dehorn, W.

Third Advisor

Pratola, D.


Interest in Arthur Rimbaud's poetry has reached the point where the public may now be described as deluged. This statement is not too excessive; consider only Professor Tancock's chapter on the post-romantic period in the sixth volume of The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies, which includes just the twelve month period ending on June 30, 1935. After the second World War, Rimbaud's influence and the exegesis on his poetry have grown to even greater magnitude. Now, in view of this increasing importance of Rimbaudian poetry, it would seem essential that one should attempt a fresh view of the poet's works in the order of their creation, insofar as this is possible, so that the full measure of Rimbaud's growth mae be taken. Again, it must be repeated, as far as this is possible. For the reader is asked to remember a fact-against which M. Luc Estang, himself a poet, has warned: to explain a poem or a poet is to involve the reader in a new exegesis that is neither prose nor poetry. So, begging indulgence for writing neither prose not poetry, the author of the present essay hopes that further insights into the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud may be provided by this cursory view of a man who won fame in the world and disrepute in his village before he ever really knew it himself. So, as Marquerite-Yerta Melera has suggested in her review of the past sixty years of Rimbaldism, Rimbaud persists. Source studies have been made, and Hugo, Chateaubriand, Baudelaire, Jules Verne and Poe have all been nominated as possible points of influence. Still the essential point remains: what did Rimbaud leave for us to read, for us to acknowledge, and what did Rimbaud believe was the order of his growth? The present essay will attempt to consider these things by offering a chronological view of Rimbaud's poetry and to correlate the facts and fancies of Rimbaud's life so that his "vision" may be seen in part and as a whole. And it is indeed a surprise to find that this confused, disdainful, ironic genius equated the expressible and the inexpressible in a self admitted vision of folly, but a folly which led finally to a most convincing argument that man should know his own truth. His own quest through the jungle of what passes is another inalterable declaration that the poetic word is always with us, whether it be in colored vowels or in the persistent notion that a moment of awakening is the eternal season. As Rimbaud himself said, "Ne soyez pas un vaincu," because "position has a way of inventing itself."