On the calm black water where the stars are sleeping White Ophelia floats like a great lily; Floats very slowly, lying in her long veils... - In the far-off woods you can hear them sound the mort.
Arthur Rimbaud (20 October 1854 – 10 November 1891) was a French poet, one of the most important representatives of symbolism, with a great influence on modern poetry. He was born in the rural Charleville area of the Ardennes near the Belgian border; his father was in the military and his mother the daughter of a wealthy farmers. His parents' marriage was unhappy as his mother was down to earth and realistic while his father had an artistic nature; he left the family when Arthur was 5 years old. Arthur spent most of his childhood in his mother's family farm in Ross with his 3 siblings. He was an intelligent student, distinguished by his writing for the newspaper of the educational community. In 1866 his first poem was published. His mother was very strict and kept the children isolated from groups, which contributed to Arthur constantly reading. He also pushed him at 16 to leave home and board a train to Paris. He only had a ticket for the first small part of the route and had hidden for the rest but he was discovered and sent back. Soon, he left on foot to Belgium, after many adventures, he arrived in Paris.
It was the time of the Paris Commune and it seems that he had some involvement in the revolutionary movement, but mainly he joined the circle of Parnassian poets and lived for a while provoking the literary circles with drunks and rioters. He met Verlaine, 11 years his senior, and traveled with him to cities in France, Belgium and London, having a stormy relationship with him that ended after a quarrel, with Verlaine's imprisonment for injuring him with a knife. Until 1874, he wrote all his poems. After that, at the age of 20, he renounced poetry and did not rewrite a single verse, describing in a letter his poetic past as: "irrational, ridiculous and disgusting". He lived the rest of his life adventurously, in Europe and Africa doing all kinds of work. He taught French in London, went to Stuttgart to learn German, and in 1875 joined the Dutch colonial army. He underwent the basic mercenary training and was sent to Jakarta, Java. He defected and returned briefly to his mother's house. He soon resumed wandering in Bremen, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Paris.
In December 1878 he traveled to Cyprus where he took over the management of a quarry. He then fled to Africa, in Aden, Yemen, where he was hired by a company to oversee the sorting and packaging of coffee. In November 1880, he went to Harar and organized an exploratory expedition to map unknown areas, reaching the southernmost point ever visited by a European. Then he went to Aden, became involved in the arms trade with the aim of getting rich quick; he continued his business activities in various African countries and in 1888 he became a leading businessman. On April 7, 1891, he left Harar in poor health. On May 20, he was taken to a hospital in Marseille, where medical reports indicate a type of bone cancer. One week later, doctors amputated his right leg. His condition soon deteriorated, and he finally died on November 10, 1891 at the age of thirty-seven.