When the child's forehead, full of red torments,
Implores the white swarm of indistinct dreams,
There come near his bed two tall charming sisters
With slim fingers that have silvery nails.

They seat the child in front of a wide open
Window where the blue air bathes a mass of flowers
And in his heavy hair where the dew falls
Move their delicate, fearful and enticing fingers.
 
He listens to the singing of their apprehensive breath.
Which smells of long rosy plant honey
And which at times a hiss interrupts, saliva
Caught on the lip or desire for kisses.

He hears their black eyelashes beating in the perfumed
Silence; and their gentle electric fingers
Make in his half-drunken indolence the death of the little lice
Crackle under their royal nails.

Then the wine of Sloth rises in him,
The sigh of an harmonica which could bring on delirium;
The child feels, according to the slowness of the caresses
Surging in him and dying continuously a desire to cry.

  • Arthur Rimbaud, "The Seekers of Lice" from Complete Works, Selected Letters. Copyright © 2005 by Arthur Rimbaud.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.

  • Source: Complete Works, Selected Letters (University of Chicago Press, 2005)

Poet Bio

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"Even people who don't particularly enjoy most forms of poetry can still find a poem that they enjoy AND be very good at reciting if they set their minds to it. What makes poetry so appealing is its ability to describe all sorts of different aspects of the human experience in a new and unique light. There is a poem out there for everyone. Even my dad...maybe."
Danielle Corbett
2016 NH POL Champion