Look back with longing eyes and know that I will follow,
Lift me up in your love as a light wind lifts a swallow,
Let our flight be far in sun or blowing rain—
But what if I heard my first love calling me again?

Hold me on your heart as the brave sea holds the foam,
Take me far away to the hills that hide your home;
Peace shall thatch the roof and love shall latch the door—
But what if I heard my first love calling me once more?

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on June 15, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive. This poem is in the public domain.


No one's serious at seventeen.
—On beautiful nights when beer and lemonade
And loud, blinding cafés are the last thing you need
—You stroll beneath green lindens on the promenade.

Lindens smell fine on fine June nights!
Sometimes the air is so sweet that you close your eyes;
The wind brings sounds—the town is near—
And carries scents of vineyards and beer. . .


—Over there, framed by a branch
You can see a little patch of dark blue
Stung by a sinister star that fades
With faint quiverings, so small and white. . .

June nights! Seventeen!—Drink it in.
Sap is champagne, it goes to your head. . .
The mind wanders, you feel a kiss
On your lips, quivering like a living thing. . .


The wild heart Crusoes through a thousand novels
—And when a young girl walks alluringly
Through a streetlamp's pale light, beneath the ominous shadow
Of her father's starched collar. . .

Because as she passes by, boot heels tapping,
She turns on a dime, eyes wide, 
Finding you too sweet to resist. . .
—And cavatinas die on your lips.


You're in love. Off the market till August.
You're in love.—Your sonnets make Her laugh.
Your friends are gone, you're bad news.
—Then, one night, your beloved, writes. . .!

That night. . .you return to the blinding cafés;
You order beer or lemonade. . .
—No one's serious at seventeen 
When lindens line the promenade.

29 September 1870

From Rimbaud Complete by Arthur Rimbaud; translated, edited, and introduced by Wyatt Mason. Copyright © 2002 by Wyatt Mason. Reprinted by permission of the Modern Library. All rights reserved.

See your God in the jelly-fish, 
Sucking salty food. 
See Him drift in the gulf-weed, 
In shark-bellies brood. 
See Him feed with the gull there, 
In a grey ship's wake. 
Feel Him afresh 
In your own hot flesh 
When into lust you break. 

Hear His wrath in the hurricane, 
Hushing a hundred lives. 
Hist His heave in the earthquake, 
In volcano hives. 
Hark His stride in the plague-wind, 
Over a sterile shore: 
Down in a mine 
Behold what wine 
Of coal-damp He will pour. 

Aye, and there in the ribaldry 
Of a night-wench's song 
Hear Him—or on a child's lips 
Cursing a slum-mate's wrong. 
Stark He starves in the street there, 
Or, full-fed, will go: 
He, your God, 
In every clod 
Or clot of human woe. 

And—in every infamy 
Loathed by you with shame. 
Clear of the saddest soul-stench 
None can keep His name. 
Man's, you may say, all crime is, 
But Who gave man birth? 
Spawn of the years 
Is he—with tears 
And strife to give him worth. 

Spawn of the Universes, 
God's great flesh and bone. 
Stars are the cells that float there, 
Through lymph-ether strown. 
Dying, living, and dead there, 
Coming again to birth 
Out of a Womb 
That was their Tomb 
Are they—and is our earth. 

Such is your Immanent God—yea, 
Evil as well as good, 
Vileness even as beauty 
Holds His strange Godhood. 
Great He seems in the sea's surge, 
Fair in a woman's face, 
Yet with the worm 
He feeds a term 
On every goodly grace. 

Spirit, then, you may hold Him, 
High of plan and hope. 
But world-flesh does He strive with, 
Yearn like us—and grope; 
So must ever and oft seem 
Avid to escape 
From the hid yeast 
That moulds the least 
Of all things to His shape. 

Spirit, may be—or haply 
We had known no growth, 
But in a slime primeval 
Still would dwell in sloth. 
Yet if such is His Being, 
Finite is His need. 
To the same ends 
As earth He wends 
And journeying must bleed.

This poem is in the public domain.