"That Damned Angel" (L'Angélot Maudit) has been considered a rimbaldian exercise in gratuitous scatology. Claude Jeancolas, however, suggests that it expresses the 17-year-old's sexual and spiritual distress during his first months in Paris. The "jujubes" - translated here as "sugarplums" - have an erotic connotation similar to that of kiwi fruit. "L'angélot a abusé du gland de son partenaire," says Jeancolas.(Dictionnaire Rimbaud, 1991)
     Louis Ratisbonne, whom Rimbaud parodies here, was the author of edifying fables for children.

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That Damned Angel

Bluish roofs and doors of white
Silent song of Sunday night,

On the outskirts of the town
Snow-white streets without a sound.

Streets and houses, eerie things
Shutters white as angels' wings.

At the city's edge, behold
Running, wretched, numb with cold,

One dark angel who succumbs,
Having gorged on sugarplums.

Takes a shit: then disappears:
But his cursed shit appears,

Below a holy moon like mud,
In a pool of filthy blood.

L'Angélot Maudit

Toits bleuâtres et portes blanches
Comme en de nocturnes dimanches,

Au bout de la ville, sans bruit
La Rue est blanche, et c'est la nuit.

La Rue a des maisons étranges
Avec des persiennes d'Anges.

Mais, vers une borne, voici
Accourir, mauvais et transi,

Un noir Angelot qui titube,
Ayant mangé trop de jujube.

Il fait caca : puis disparaît:
Mais son caca maudit paraît,

Sous la lune sainte qui vaque,
De sang noir un léger cloaque.

        -Louis Ratisbonne
        A. Rimbaud
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Translator's Note: The last line, "De sang noir un léger cloaque," contains a set of meanings I've not been able to translate. "Cloaque" can be a sewer or any place filthy with liquids. It also means the vent of a bird or snake, which serves both as intestinal and urinary orifice and as sexual aperture. "Ce 'tout-en-un' a dû enchanter la paillardise rimbaldienne du moment," writes Jeancolas. "This 'all-in-one' would have appealed to Rimbaud's erotic sensibility at that point in time." (Rimbaud, l'Oeuvre, Textuel 2000)

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Translation copyright © 2002 by Slim Volume