This book is one of the few memories I have left of an older cousin that has decided to cut all ties with many of his relatives a few years ago. When visiting his old apartment (where he would only stay when he was in town, visiting our grand-parents) many years ago, I stole this book of his. He was no longer living there, and I thought, in my young mind, that it would be okay to take this with me. This book is one of my most cherished possessions. My cousin was an important figure in my early life - he was an artist, an explorer, a lover of life, a very complex and stubborn being. He was born in Vietnam, raised in France, spent his summers in Gabon, was educated in Canada and San Francisco, taught design in Shanghai, and travelled all around the world. He always took time to send me postcards and personally craft me the most amazing birthday cards.
He also always seemed excited to attend my piano recitals, which were most often quite underwhelming.
I was never involved in the drama that lead him to give up on his extended family, but I am related to those who are, and therefore, have suffered from the consequences. I will forever feel a little upset at this turnout of events, especially since I had no control over it, and was merely a young spectator.
Old bus pass left in the book,
also not shown: coffee stains,
and a note that says "Merci Phil! - Nath"
The book contains Rimbaud's poems in their original language along with their corresponding English translations, which I find interesting since I am fluent in both languages and often like to compare translations when it comes to books.
"In the woods there is a bird; his song stops you and makes you blush.
There is a clock that never strikes.
There is a hollow with a nest of white beasts.
There is a cathedral that goes down and a lake that goes up.
There is a little carriage abandoned in the copse or that goes running down the road beribboned.
There is a troupe of little actors in costume, glimpsed on the road through the border of the woods.
And then, when you are hungry and thirsty, there is someone who drives you away."
(Childhood by Rimbaud, translated by Louise Varèse, edition: A New Directions Paperbook, 1957)