A poem I mentioned once…

Here’s a poem I mentioned once to Sun Hwa in Seoul over coffee, talking about how writers excel most when they know which details to mention and which to leave out. While cleaning up my apartment I ended up looking through my copy of Rimbaud and found the poem. Seems I misrembered a detail about whose boots Rimbaud was describing, but anyway, it’s still a beautiful detail, better still in the French despite the wonderful translation by Wyatt Mason. This poem is taken from his translation, Rimbaud Complete. Enjoy.

At the Cabaret-Vert, Five P.M.

by Arthur Rimbaud

Eight days of shredding my boots
On bad roads. Then, Charleroi.
—And into the Cabaret-Vert. I ordered:
Bread and butter with lukewarm ham.

I felt good, and stretched my legs.
Under the green table: I was staring
At a tapesry’s simple scenes
When a girl with huge tits and bright eyes

—No kiss could scare her off!—
Cheerily brought my bread and butter
And lukewarm ham on a colorful plate,

Pink and white ham rubbed with garlic—
And then filled my giant mug with foamy beer
That glowed gold with late-day light.

October 1870

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