Rimbaud and His Muse
Black birches full of autumn soundó
like rain their few excited leaves;
what honest passion can be found
where light dissembles, wind deceives?
Between the trees she comes and leaves
Shaken to learn of my seclusionó
I cannot ease the loss she grieves,
my art was built upon illusion.
The calm she looks for in my figure
restraint or death itself conceives;
through my long dream I trusted neither.
Blind will alone confronts the leaves.
My skill was stronger than the leaves
and yet it falls away as fast;
she frowns and waits and disbelieves
that madness found me out at last.
Beside her now my shadow heaves
like meaning seen but never formed,
hugely alert among the leaves
where worse than madness is performed.
1955; originally printed in The Atlantic
Reprinted by permission of the