October 20 is the birthday of the poet Arthur Rimbaud, born in France (1854). He became friends with the elder poet Paul Verlaine, whose work he admired, and Verlaine invited him to stay at his house. When he arrived, Rimbaud had his first masterpiece in his pocket, a poem called "The Drunken Boat" (1871), describing the journey of an empty boat as it wanders the ocean and eventually breaks apart. Rimbaud and Verlaine fell into a love affair that shocked the rest of the Paris literary scene. But they had a bitter break-up, and the relationship ended when Verlaine tried to murder Rimbaud with a pistol, shooting him in the arm.
Verlaine went to prison and Rimbaud went back to live with his mother, where he wrote one of his last books. He wrote: "I tried to invent new flowers, new stars, new flesh, new tongues. ... I am returned to the soil with a duty to seek and rough reality to embrace. ... At last, I shall ask forgiveness for having fed on lies."
Rimbaud had been 16 when he started publishing his poetry and he was 19 when gave up on poetry and took off to wander around the world, winding up in Africa, where he became an arms dealer. He kept writing letters to his family, but he never wrote another poem and never gave any hint that he missed poetry. A cult grew up in Paris around the few books of poetry he had published, and years before his death, people already referred to him as the late Arthur Rimbaud.
Rimbaud: A Life in Slideshow | Open Culture http://goo.gl/vTcaG