The Drunken Boat, poem by the year-old French poet Arthur Rimbaud, written in as “Le Bateau ivre” and often considered his finest poem. The poem. The Drunken Boat by Arthur I drifted on a river I could not control No longer guided by the bargemens ropes. They were captured by howling. Old mill at Charleville on the river Meuse around the turn of the century. To the right is quai Madeleine where Rimbaud lived with his mother, brother, and sisters .

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Rainbows stretched like bridles Under the seas’ horizon, to glaucous herds! Lighter than a cork, I danced on the waves Which men call eternal rollers of victims, For ten nights, without once missing the foolish eye of the harbor lights!

Fierce love has swallowed me in drunken torpors. I have struck, do you realize, incredible Floridas, where mingle with flowers the eyes of panthers in human skins! Light as a cork I danced upon the waves, ten nights And never missed the lantern’s idiot eyes The Rivers let me float down as Drunkfn wished, When the victims and the sounds were through.

The tempest blessed my sea awakening.

Sometimes, a martyr tired of poles and zones, The sea whose sobs made my roilings sweet Showed me its shadow flowers with yellow mouths And I rested like a woman on her knees… Almost an isle, blowing across my sands, quarrels And droppings of pale-eyed clamorous gulls, And I scudded on while, over my frayed lines, Drowned men sank back in sleep beneath my hull!

Another Verne novel, The Adventures of Captain Hatteraswas likely an additional source of inspiration.


Into the ferocious tide-rips Last winter, more absorbed than the minds of children, I ran! If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.

The Crux of Rimbaud’s Poetics. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Sweeter than the flesh of sour apples to children, the green water penetrated my ribmaud hull and washed me clean of the bluish wine-stains and the splashes of vomit, carrying away both rudder and anchor.

Rimbaud included the poem in a letter he sent to Paul Verlaine in September to introduce himself to Verlaine. Sharp love has swollen me up with heady langours. I dreamed of green nights and glittering snow, Slow kisses rising in the eyes of the sea, Unknown liquids flowing, the blue and yellow Stirring of phosphorescent melody!

The Drunken Boat : Rimbaud translated by Holly Tannen

I was indifferent to all crews, The bearer of Flemish wheat or English cottons, When with my haulers this uproar stopped, The Rivers let me go where I wanted. The grandiose aspirations have deceived, leaving exhaustion and the sense of imprisonment. Bathed in your languors, o waves, I can no longer wash away the wake of ships bearing cotton, nor penetrate the arrogance of pennants and flags, nor swim past the dreadful eyes of slave ships.

But now I, a boat lost under the hair of coves, Hurled by the hurricane into the birdless ether, I, whose wreck, dead-drunk and sodden with water, neither Monitor nor Hanse ships would have fished up; Free, smoking, risen from violet fogs, I who bored through the wall of the reddening sky Which bears a sweetmeat good poets find delicious, Lichens of sunlight [mixed] with azure snot, Who ran, speckled rimbaur lunula of electricity, A crazy plank, with black sea-horses for escort, When Julys were crushing with cudgel blows Skies of ultramarine into burning funnels; I who rikbaud, to feel at fifty leagues’ distance The groans of Behemoth’s rutting, and of the dense Maelstroms Eternal spinner of blue immobilities I long for Europe with it’s aged old parapets!


Sweeter than sour apples to a child Green water seeping through my battered hull Cleansing the stains of vomit and the wine Tearing apart my anchor and my keel.

Rimbaud, Arthur: The Drunken Boat (Le Bateau Ivre in English)

A Leviathan that rotted in the reeds! I have seen enormous swamps ferment, fish-traps Where a whole Leviathan rots in the rushes!

Where, suddenly staining the blues, delirious and slow rhythms under the glowing red of day, stronger than alcohol, vaster than our lyrics, ferment the red bitters of love! Essay on the Drunken Boat: Retrieved 13 March Every moon is atrocious and every sun bitter: Views Read Edit View history.

And no unmoored peninsula rimbakd knew More triumphant uproar than I made O let me sink to the bottom!

The Drunken Boat

Flemish wheat or English cottons, all were gone When my bargemen could no longer haul me I forgot about everything and drifted on. Lulled by storms, I drifted seaward from sleep. Your contribution may be further edited by our staff, and its publication is subject to our final approval.