“The poet who still gets fan mail 125 years after his death: A voyage to the elegant French shrine of Arthur Rimbaud” – Daily Mail, Hilary Macaskill

News and photos from Daily Mail / Mail Online

r1-mini  A postbox is an unexpected find in a cemetery.

Painted gold, the metal box displays a portrait of the 19th Century poet Arthur Rimbaud, who is buried here at Charleville.

The postbox was installed because people write to him. Even now. The French Ardennes, close to the Belgian border, celebrate the young poet, who died 125 years ago this month.

The delightfully elegant Charleville, founded in 1606 by Charles, Duke of Mantua – the hometown of 19th Century poet Arthur Rimbaud, who is buried here (photo credit to Daily Mail)

Although Rimbaud’s writing career lasted only five years, his influence stretches across the arts, from Picasso to Bob Dylan, who, when introduced to his writing, said that ‘the bells went off’.

Mr Tambourine Man alludes to Le Bateau Ivre (Drunken Boat), often considered Rimbaud’s best work.

Rimbaud stopped writing at 21, eventually becoming a trader in Ethiopia, but still people come to pay homage. We were, in a way, also doing that.

Half the appeal was the landscape of the Ardennes – the thickly wooded region just a three-hour drive from Calais – but I also wanted to know more about this charismatic poet.

In the house where Rimbaud spent his adolescent years, now La Maison d’Ailleurs (the House of Elsewhere), the curator produced two boxes crammed with recent post, including stapled sheets of poems, photos, and a T-shirt.

These items are not on show but the more beautiful letters are read during poetry events.

PIC 7 credit Michael Shipman.jpg
Painted gold, the metal box displays a portrait of the poet and was installed because people still write to him to this day (photo credit to Daily Mail)

Perhaps his adventurous spirit is the attraction: Rimbaud ran away three times as a teenager from the town he hated. It’s hard to reconcile this dislike with today’s elegant Charleville, founded in 1606 by Charles, Duke of Mantua. 

Its centrepiece is the magnificent Place Ducale, edged by arcades and fine townhouses. It’s well used – this month it is given over to stalls of local products including pâté and embroidery.

When we were there, a family play day was in full swing, with over-sized games of Scrabble and chess clustered around a great carousel.

Our guide, Elisabeth, took us to Rimbaud’s homes, telling us about the repressive mother he dubbed ‘the mouth of darkness’, but also to the Place Winston Churchill, which is the home of the Puppetry Institute – 20 students a year enlist for the diploma course. And the biennial World Puppet Theatre Festival is held in Charleville.

The presence of the young poet is everywhere, from the hairdresser bearing his name to Le Table d’Arthur, the restaurant opposite his birthplace.

The glass facade of the hotel Le Dormeur du Val, named after his…..   r2-mini – Daily Mail, Hilary Macaskill

Continue reading on Daily Mail:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s