Last Lines

Far away from birds and herds and village girls,
I was drinking, kneeling down in some heather
Surrounded by soft hazel copses,
In an afternoon mist, warm and green.

What can I have been drinking in that young Oise,
Voiceless elms, flowerless turf, overcast sky.
What did I draw from the gourd of the wine?
Some golden liquor, pale, which causes sweating

Such as I was, I should have made a poor inn-sign.
Then the storm changed the sky, until the evening.
It was black countries, lakes, poles,
Colonnades under the blue night, railway stations.

The water from the woods trickled away into virgin sands
The wind, from the sky, threw sheets of ice across the ponds...
But! like a fisher for gold or shellfish,
To think that I did not bother to drink!

May 1872

- As translated by Oliver Bernard: Arthur Rimbaud, Collected Poems (1962).
- Manuscript given to Jean-Louis Forain by Arthur, gone into the collection Louis Barthou, then in the collection Pierre Bérès in 1935.
- Rimbaud wrote another copy for Verlaine, which dated later than the above version but was prior to the one published in A Season in Hell (Alchemy of the word).

French version