Thursday, June 25, 2015
Seasons in hell
As we were working our 73rd consecutive day on an exhaustive, yet intricate, raft of home improvements and home remodeling, I heard the sounds of parties ringing out festively across our neighborhood. Since we had eschewed listening to working music merely on the basis of it being too much work to set up (see: 73rd consecutive day) I was left with older things than music. A line from an old French poem came to my mind over and over:
Once my life was a feast where all hearts opened and all wines flowed.
This, as you may know, is from A Season in Hell by Rimbaud, and my memory of the line curiously omits "if my memory serves me well" ("Once, if my memory serves me well, my life was a feast where all hearts opened and all wines flowed.") which goes to show that my memory itself has the same sense of humor I do.
I, at the age of 50, am willing to say that my life has been, in the past, occasionally, for not, like, hugely extended periods of time, but on special occasions, a feast where all hearts opened and all wines flowed. Metaphorically. I am also willing to say that A Season in Hell is a great scorch of poems and I have fond memories of hearing that first one recited in a tent during an endless rainstorm in the Sierras while drinking whiskey and eating peanut butter. But just now I am reflecting on Rimbaud, who was 19 or younger when he wrote the poem. I am feeling a bit stunted in the old empathy department. When I was 19 I had not come close to a time when all hearts opened and all wines flowed. I had at most seen two flowing wines at one time and maybe eight or nine open hearts total, ever! So this Rimbaud kid seems lucky, if you ask me. And a season in hell? Okay, but I bet this talented Rimbaud kid had never totally remodeled a small, old house like we have. Now that's tough.
But I understand. Young people buy all the poetry and you have to cater to them, all fire and anguish. They're the ones who keep it going, and they deserve it. After all, adolescence is no picnic. Except maybe for this Rimbaud cove, who apparently had one with all hearts open and all wines flowing.