Rimbaud & Verlaine (The New Yorker)

He and Verlaine both changed poetry, in ways that continue to affect it in our own time. Dylan’s mention of them was not mere name-dropping. By the testimony of Dylan’s mentor Dave Van Ronk, it was a paperback copy of modern French verse, heavy with underlining—which a fresh-from-Minnesota Dylan took down from Van Ronk’s bookshelf, on Macdougal Street, in 1960—that provided the impetus for that poet’s own stream of imagery. Rimbaud’s “A Season In Hell” gave the idea that poetry should be, first of all, a journey into extreme experience, evidenced not by a coherent evocation of a story but by subversive images and sensual evocations that subvert logic and language itself. (Dylan’s great songs from “Blonde on Blonde”—“Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” and “Visions of Johanna”—are straight applications of Rimbaud’s symbolist methods to popular music.)

Rimbaud & Verlaine