by Robin Boothroyd

Here’s another translation I’ve done of a poem from Arthur Rimbaud’s Illuminations. It is significant that the title addresses “a” reason, as in “a particular version of reason”, as Rimbaud’s poetics were formed on the famous phrase “Je est un autre” (I is another self), in which he sought to divorce one “self” from another, as well as inventing different ones.


‘To a Reason’

by Arthur Rimbaud, translated by Robin Boothroyd

A tap of your finger on the drum unleashes the sounds and weaves a new harmony.

At your footfalls new men sign up and march out.

Your head turns away: new love! Turns back––new love!

“Change our lots, flatten the scourge, start with time,” the children sing to you. “Raise the substance of our fortunes and our vows wherever possible,” they plead.

You step out of always. Now make for everywhere.


You can find some of my other translations from Rimbaud’s Illuminations here.