19 February 2012

The Leaving of Harar

The outlaw death of Arthur Rimbaud

He lies upon a stretcher in the square
With grim men, pistoled, daggered, standing guard:
The leaving of Harar is proving hard,
But harder still to stay under the glare,
Such hatred and contempt. And so from there
By camel, across countless burning yards
Of sand, at last a precious boarding-card
To France, with gold enough to pay the fare.
Then birds take flight around a drunken boat
That cuts the Meuse beneath those voiceless trees,
Where reputation grips him by the throat
And cancer drives him finally to his knees.
The widow brings her devil-son back home
From Marseille, to a grave under the stone.


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