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Collage After the Storm

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Two weeks ago, Art of RetroCollage touched upon the life and poetry of Arthur Rimbaud (in”The Sacred and Profane Collages of Arthur Rimbaud“). We noted his influence on the Surrealist writers and visual artists who  fifty years later would explore the imaginative terrain he had revealed. Like Charles Baudelaire and the Comte de Lautréamont before him, Rimbaud redefined poetry in two ways: the dreamlike, sometimes violent juxtaposition of unrelated images, and their incorporation into the prose poem, a form pioneered by John Milton and William Blake.  The prose-poem collage inspired the  Surrealists to bring to light dreams and desires previously repressed, but liberated in the wake of the First World War.

"After the Flood"

After the Flood (2012). Digital collage created & copyright © by Eric Edelman. All rights reserved.

In Illuminations (1874),  Rimbaud’s last collection of poetry, there is a prose poem entitled “Après le Deluge” (“After the Deluge”), commemorating the aftermath of an epochal flood. In the aftermath of the recent severe hurricane, here is the poem and its English translation:

Aussitôt après que l’idée du Déluge se fut rassise,
Un lièvre s’arrêta dans les sainfoins et les clochettes mouvantes et dit sa prière à l’arc-en-ciel à travers la toile de l’araignée.
Oh ! les pierres précieuses qui se cachaient, — les fleurs qui regardaient déjà.
Dans la grande rue sale les étals se dressèrent, et l’on tira les barques vers la mer étagée là-haut comme sur les gravures.
Le sang coula, chez Barbe-Bleue, — aux abattoirs, — dans les cirques, où le sceau de Dieu blêmit les fenêtres. Le sang et le lait coulèrent.
Les castors bâtirent. Les “mazagrans” fumèrent dans les estaminets.
Dans la grande maison de vitres encore ruisselante les enfants en deuil regardèrent les merveilleuses images.
Une porte claqua, et sur la place du hameau, l’enfant tourna ses bras, compris des girouettes et des coqs des clochers de partout, sous l’éclatante giboulée. Madame*** établit un piano dans les Alpes. La messe et les premières communions se célébrèrent aux cent mille autels de la cathédrale.
Les caravanes partirent. Et le Splendide Hôtel fut bâti dans le chaos de glaces et de nuit du pôle.
Depuis lors, la Lune entendit les chacals piaulant par les déserts de thym, — et les églogues en sabots grognant dans le verger. Puis, dans la futaie violette, bourgeonnante, Eucharis me dit que c’était le printemps.
— Sourds, étang, — Écume, roule sur le pont, et par-dessus les bois ; — draps noirs et orgues, — éclairs et tonnerre, — montez et roulez ; — Eaux et tristesses, montez et relevez les Déluges.
Car depuis qu’ils se sont dissipés, — oh les pierres précieuses s’enfouissant, et les fleurs ouvertes ! — c’est un ennui ! et la Reine, la Sorcière qui allume sa braise dans le pot de terre, ne voudra jamais nous raconter ce qu’elle sait, et que nous ignorons.

(As soon as the idea of the Deluge had died down,
A hare stopped amid the sainfoins and the shaking little bells and said its prayer to the rainbow through the spiderweb.
Oh! the precious stones that hid themselves,–the flowers that already looked.
In the dirty main street, stalls were erected, and we pulled the boats toward the sea stepped upward as in engravings.
Blood flowed, at Bluebeard’s–in slaughterhouses–in circuses, where God’s seal blanched the windows. Blood and milk flowed.
Beavers built. “Mazagrans” smoked in pubs.
In the large house with windows still dripping, children in mourning looked at the marvelous pictures.
A door slammed, and in the village square, the boy swung his arms about, understood by weather-vanes and steeple-cocks everywhere, under the bright sleet. Madame *** established a piano in the Alps. Mass and first communions were celebrated at the one hundred thousand altars of the cathedral.
Caravans departed. And the Hotel Splendide was built in the icy chaos of polar night.
Since that time, the Moon heard jackals peeping through thyme deserts–and the eclogues in wooden shoes grumbling in the orchards. Then, in the budding violet grove, Eucharis told me it was spring.
–Deaf, pond,–Foam, roll on the bridge and over the woods;–black drapes and organs,–lightning and thunder,–climb and roll;–Waters and sorrows, climb and raise the Deluges.
Because since they dissipated,–oh, the precious stones burrowing, and the open flowers!–what a nuisance! and the Queen, the Sorceress who lights her coals in the clay pot, will never tell us what she knows, and what we do not.)



Sainfoin : Perennial flowering herbs of the legume family, native to Europe and Asia. They derive their name from the French words “sain” (healthy) and “foin” (hay), after the beneficial effects the herbs have in fattening cattle.

Mazagran : A mixed beverage made of coffee and brandy, most often served hot and in a specially-shaped cup. The drink is named after the Algerian Battle of Mazagran, which took place in 1840; French soldiers were said to have drunk the beverage while under siege there.

Steeple-cock : An ornament in the shape of a rooster, at the top of a steeple or pinnacle.

Eclogue : A short poem in the form of a dialogue or monologue, formerly limited to rural or pastoral themes.

Eucharis : The name of a character from the novel Les Aventures de Télémaque (1699) by François Fénelon. Although the name is intended to be Greek, “Eucharis” is invented, and does not appear in classical mythology or history.


(All artwork, descriptions, translations, & other text [except for quotations] created & copyright © by Eric Edelman. All rights reserved.)


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After the Flood

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18 Comments… add one

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18 comments… add one
stevebethere November 6, 2012, 12:58 pm

Fantastic as usual 😉

Have a brilliant week

Eric Edelman November 6, 2012, 1:17 pm

Thanks very much, Steve! Have a great week, and a fine WW!

Wayne November 6, 2012, 1:22 pm

Very nice. It was thought provoking!

Eric Edelman November 6, 2012, 5:52 pm

Thanks very much, Wayne! Going to visit your link now…

Robin from Israel November 6, 2012, 1:22 pm

I really like how the figure in the back looks almost like a hologram against the striped background.

PS I think I’m going to be humming Jackson Browne’s After the Deluge all evening now :).

Eric Edelman November 6, 2012, 5:51 pm

Thanks, Robin! I was aiming at a ghostly effect. (I’m listening to the Jackson Browne song now…but isn’t it “Before the Deluge”?)

Judy Haughton-James November 6, 2012, 6:11 pm

Very interesting Eric! I know what it means to go through storms and hurricanes. Thanks for hosting.

Eric Edelman November 6, 2012, 6:54 pm

Thank you, Judy! Yes, I imagine you’ve more experience than most with storms. It’s always a pleasure to host you!

Daryl November 7, 2012, 7:42 am

a wonderful wednesday … and a fabulous collage!

Eric Edelman November 7, 2012, 11:42 am

Thanks very much for your kind comment, Daryl!

Paula J November 7, 2012, 8:18 am

Reminds me of our weather last week with the hurricane. We only lost power for 3 days, but that’s nothing compared to what others are experiencing still.


Eric Edelman November 7, 2012, 11:41 am

The recent hurricane was the inspiration for this piece, as well as for the translation of the Rimbaud poem. We were fortunate enough never to lose power or anything else (except the Internet for some twelve hours following the storm). I sympathize with you and all the others who were without power or lost their homes and possessions. Thanks very much for your comment, Paula.

Leovi November 7, 2012, 6:13 pm

Excellent color, great composition. An excellent collage.

Eric Edelman November 8, 2012, 8:32 pm

Thank you very much for your visit and your comment, Leovi!

Mary Denman November 8, 2012, 8:05 pm

Hey Eric, I finally got to the comment box! I tried a couple of times to leave a comment, but who knows what happened with it. Anyway, here it is: I love the poem. French was the language I learned in school. How appropriate with what happened with Sandy. Great collage! Praying for the victims who are still devastated. Thanks for dropping by my blog.

Eric Edelman November 8, 2012, 8:31 pm

Thanks very much for your visit and your kind words, Mary! I’m very happy that you like the poem and the collage. (Thanks also for your perseverance in going after the comment box.) Yes, the devastation is terrible, and the recent smaller storm yesterday didn’t help matters any.

Claudia November 11, 2012, 8:25 am

Simply beautiful! And perfect for the current time here in NY/NJ. Glad to hear that you made it through o.k., Eric.

Eric Edelman November 11, 2012, 9:44 pm

Thank you very much, Claudia! I hope you also didn’t suffer too much through the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

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