RIMBAUD: THE DRUNKEN BOAT

by Robin Boothroyd

So here’s an idea: a comic book translation of a poem by the French symbolist Arthur Rimbaud. ‘The Drunken Boat’ is a psychedelic, kaleidoscopic journey across the seven seas as told by a boat whose crew was killed by “yelping redskins”. I’ve translated the poem and am looking for any artists/illustrators/graphic designers to collaborate with on an adaptation. I won’t post the full poem because I’m saving it for the finished book; nevertheless, as a taster, here are stanzas five to eight.

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‘The Drunken Boat (Extract)’

by Arthur Rimbaud, translated by Robin Boothroyd

[…]

I swallowed green waters that were sweeter to the taste
Than tangy apples on children’s tongues. They cleansed
My pinewood hull of blue wine stains and vomit,
And scattered my rudder and anchor to the deep.

Thereafter I bathed in the Poem of the Sea,
An infusion of milky starlight devouring aquamarine.
Sometimes, like a delighted piece of pale flotsam,
A drowned man would pensively break the surface.

Down in the depths, beneath the quicksilver,
With a slow, delirious rhythm, bitter love
– Stronger than liquor, louder than lyres –
Ferments, and dyes the deep blues red!

I know skies fractured by lightning, and hurricanes
And undertows and currents; I know the night,
And dawns as rapturous as a flock of doves.
I have seen worlds which are for man dreamworlds.

[…]

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Are you an artist/illustrator/graphic designer? Do you like the idea of this project and want to know more? Please get in touch. You can contact me via email by using the address listed here. Read more Rimbaud translations here.

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