The Cold Tap Sings

the p-word

Category: Translations


Another Arthur Rimbaud translation for you. This one was set to music by Benjamin Britten as part of his song cycle Les Illuminations, and he dedicated it to his partner Peter Pears.


‘Being Beauteous’

by Arthur Rimbaud, translated by Robin Boothroyd

Against the snow, a tall Beautiful Being. Whistlings of death and circles of muffled music make this adored body rise, enlarge and tremble like a ghost; red and black wounds rupture the glorious flesh. Life’s colours darken, dance and disengage from the Vision as it takes shape. Shivers rise and rumble, and the frenzied cocktail of these effects combines with the mortal whistling and the raucous music that the world, at our backs, hurls at our earth mother –– she recoils, she rears up. Oh! our bones are mantled with a loving new body once more.


I’m knee-deep in Arthur Rimbaud’s Illuminations as I chronologically translate my favourite poems by him. This is one of his best.



by Arthur Rimbaud, translated by Robin Boothroyd

Seen enough. The vision met the eye at every angle.
Had enough. Rumbles, in the city, at dusk, and sunlit, and always.
Known enough. The obstacles of life. ––O Rumbles and Visions!
Departure into newfound soundscapes with renewed tenderness!


Further translations of Rimbaud’s work – including the opening poem from the Illuminations – can be found on my old blog, here.