David Bowie and Arthur Rimbaud

Not doing much this morning, but listening to Youtube (but not doing is doing, right?—the field lying fallow and all that): Martha and the Vandellas, Santana, and David Bowie, all of them such incredible show-people, but Bowie was certainly one of the best: the man could do a show. I’ve always thought Heroes was Bowie’s homage to Arthur Rimbaud’s Royalty from Illuminations. Anyway, here he is singing Heroes. I could listen to it all day.

I’m including Royalty by Rimbaud in the French below and my humble translation of it this morning which is partly an assimilation of all those better translations that have come before it. OK, enough of this: now I must get to work. I really must. Oh shut up, Yorty.


Un beau matin, chez un peuple fort doux, un homme et une femme superbes criaient sur la place publique. “Mes amis, je veux qu’elle soit reine !” “Je veux être reine !” Elle riait et tremblait. Il parlait aux amis de révélation, d’épreuve terminée. Ils se pâmaient l’un contre l’autre.

En effet, ils furent rois toute une matinée où les tentures carminées se relevèrent sur les maisons, et toute l’après-midi, où ils s’avancèrent du côté des jardins de palmes.


One fine morning, in a country of very gentle people, a beautiful man and woman shouted in the public square. “My friends, I want her to be queen!” “I want to be queen.” She laughed and trembled. He talked to his friends about revelations, about trials ended. They walked together swooning one against the other.

And indeed, they were royalty for the whole morning while people hung red banners from their houses, and through the afternoon, as they walked toward gardens of palms.

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