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Les Chercheuses de Poux by Arthur Rimbaud

My favorite poem by Rimbaud is innocent and sexy at the same time. A boy has run away from home and now dirty but found some kind women place him by an open window, the better to see when they start to pick the lice out of his hair before giving him a bath. The images of Rimbaud are by Stephen Spera.

Les Chercheuses de Poux

Quand le front de l’enfant, plein de rouges tourmentes,
Implore l’essaim blanc des rêves indistincts,
Il vient près de son lit deux grandes sœurs charmantes
Avec de frêles doigts aux ongles argentins.

Elles assoient l’enfant auprès d’une croisée
Grande ouverte où l’air bleu baigne un fouillis de fleurs
Et, dans ses lourds cheveux où tombe la rosée,
Promène leurs doigts fins, terribles et charmeurs.

Il écoute chanter leurs haleines craintives
Qui fleurent de longs miels végétaux et rosés
Et qu’interrompt parfois un sifflement, salives
Reprises sur la lèvre ou désirs de baisers.

Il entend leurs cils noirs battant sous les silences
Parfumés ; et leurs doigts électriques et doux
Font crépiter, parmi ses grises indolences,
Sous leurs ongles royaux, la mort des petits poux.

Voilà que monte en lui le vin de la Paresse,
Soupir d’harmonica qui pourrait délirer :
L’enfant se sent , selon la lenteur des caresses,
Sourdre et mourir sans cesse un désir de pleurer.


The Searchers for Lice

When the child’s forehead itching red torments
begs to a white swarm of half-formed dreams
two tall charming sisters come to his bed
with delicate fingers and silver nails.

They seat him by a big open window
where blue air bathes a tangle of flowers
and on his heavy hair where the dew falls
their fingers walk terrible and charming.

He listens to their fearful breathing sing
and smells their honey, vegetable and pink
interrupted sometimes by a hiss like spit
sucked from the lip or a desire to kiss.

He hears their black eyelashes beat against the scented silences
and their long royal fingers electric and sweet
crackling among gray indolence
squash little lice to death.

Then in him pours the wine of Laziness
like a harmonica’s delirious sigh
he feels beneath their slow caress
rise fall in him without end the urge to cry.


Don reading Rimbaud on the train by Akram