Lowrie Translates Rimbaud’s Illuminations

Translation by Joyce Lowrie

Joyce Lowrie, professor of romance languages and literatures, emerita, is the translator of the book, Arthur Rimbaud ILLUMINATIONS, published by XLibris in 2010. Norm Shapiro, professor of romance languages and literatures, wrote an introduction to the book.

According to Lowrie: “to see – or not to see: that was[ Rimbaud’s] option. ‘To See’ became his will. In his poetic career, Rimbaud chose ‘to see’ by confounding the very instruments of vision: his eyes and his intellect. He dreamed about and ‘saw’ the Crusades, he ‘saw’ enchantments, magical dream-flowers, a flower that says its name, a digitalis that ‘opens up over a tapestry of silver filigree, of eyes, and tresses,’ flowers that were like crystal disks, or made of agate and rubies. He ‘saw’ giant candelabras, grasses made of emeralds and steel, theatrical stages that could accommodate horrors or masterpieces, circus horses and children. He ‘heard’ rare music, the sounds of waves and of water, or ‘the rare rumor of pearls, conchs, and seashells’ hidden deep in the ocean. He saw russet robes, objects made of opal, sapphires, or metals. He ‘saw’ objects made of steel studded with golden stars, angels of fire and of ice, carriages made with diamonds. He also described what one might call ‘nothingness’ as opposed to ‘being,’ in these days of ours.”