The deserts of love (Fragments)



These writings are those of one young, very young man, whose life developed no matter where; motherless, countryless, careless of all one knows, fleeing all moral force, like some other pitiable young men before him. But him, so vexed and so troubled that he only went along to death as it were a shyness terrible and fated. Having never loved women—though full-blooded!—he’d reared his heart and soul, all his strength, in sad, strange errors. From the following dreams—his loves!—that came to him in bed or the street here and there, and from their middle and end, gentle religious considerations may be drawn. There will be recalled the continued sleep of the legendary Mahometans—brave for all that and circumcised! But, that bizarre torment possessing a disquieting authority, it is sincerely to be desired that this Soul, strayed amongst us all, desirous of death, it would seem, meet at that moment serious consolations and be worthy.



This time, it’s the woman I saw in the Town, who spoke to me as I spoke to her.

I was in a chamber, unlit. Someone came to tell me she was here! and I beheld her in my bed, mine, unlit! I was quite moved, and much because it was the family home: also a distress seized me! I was in tatters, myself, and she, a socialite giving herself: she had to go! A nameless distress: I took her, and let her fall out of bed, nearly naked; and, in my unspeakable feebleness, I fell upon her and dragged myself along with her amidst the carpeting, unlit! The family lamp ruddied one after another the rooms next door. Then, the woman vanished. I shed more tears than God could ever have asked.

I went out into the endless town. O fatigue! Sunk in this thick night and in the flight of happiness. As it were a winter night, with snowfall to stifle the world decidedly. The friends I cried out to: where is she now? answered lyingly. I was before the windows where she went every night: I ran into a buried garden. I was pushed away. I wept enormously, at all that. At last, I went down to a place full of dust and, sitting down on some framework, I let finish all the tears of my body with that night—and my exhaustion came back nevertheless.

I knew She was at her everyday life; and that the tour of kindness would take longer reproducing itself than a star. She didn’t come back, and never will come back, the Adorable one who showed up at my place—which I should never have presumed. True, this time I wept more than every child in the world.



It’s, to be sure, the same stretch of country. The same rural home of my parents: the very hall where the overdoors are of browned pastorals, with coats of arms and lions. At dinner, there is a saloon, with candles and wines and antique wainscoting. The dinner table is quite large. The serving-girls! they were several, as far as I recall—there was one of my old chums, a priest and dressed like one: now: it was to be more free. I recall his purple chamber, with panes of yellow paper: and his books, hidden, that had steeped in the ocean!

Myself, I was abandoned in that endless country house: reading in the cookery, drying the muck from my clothes before my hosts, to conversations from the saloon: moved even unto death by the murmur of milk in the morning and the night of the last century.

I was in a chamber quite dark: doing what? A serving-girl came close to me: I can say that she was a little dog: though she was beautiful, and of a maternal nobility inexpressible, for me: pure, known, entirely charming! She pinched me on the arm.

I don’t even remember her face very well: that’s not to remember her arm, whose skin I rolled between two fingers; nor her mouth, which mine gripped like a tiny desperate wave, mining something endlessly. I upended her in a basket of cushions and ship’s canvas, in a darkened corner. I only remember her white lace undergarment.

Then, o despair! the partition became vaguely the shadow of trees, and I foundered in the amorous sadness of night.


 Arthur Rimbaud