Arthur Rimbaud is the supreme child genius in the history of poetry. Born in Charleville, France, he attended school there, then left for Paris where he embarked on a disastrous but enormously productive relationship with another great poet, Paul Verlaine. When that affair wrecked itself spectacularly—with Verlaine sent to prison for shooting Rimbaud—Rimbaud apparently abandoned poetry, left Europe, eventually lived in east Africa briefly, and returned to France to die of cancer at the age of 37, a virtually unknown man. Once buried, though, he gradually dawned as the blazing comet of early Modernist verse.
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