During the first lockdown in 2020, my sister (in London) and I (in Oswestry) had a daily drawing routine, and poets were one of the subjects we explored. We shared our images through WhatsApp and discussed the results each night by phone. In choosing Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891), I wanted to express the essence of a poet who influenced surrealism in art and modern literature. Rimbaud’s poetry, all of it written before he was 20 years old, uses symbolism to test his mind and explain his soul. He wrote,
“I have stretched ropes from steeple to steeple;
Garlands from window to window;
Golden chains from star to star…
And I dance.”
Such voyages of the imagination were part of the longing for freedom during lockdown. And his phrase “A thousand dreams within me softly burn” could describe the desire for self-expression during our own time of silence.
The ink drawing shows a young Rimbaud setting off on a journey to an unknown destination. It illustrates how far our imagination may take us. Rimbaud’s ‘restless soul’ travelled many miles, not only in his imagination as a poet, but also in reality as a trader and explorer in the last half of his short life.
Expectation. Arthur Rimbaud 1854-1891