Rimbaud op Java, De verdwenen reis, Jamie James vertaling Nele Ysebaert

On this day in 1885 Arthur Rimbaud wrote to his mother that he had decided to become a gun-runner in Ethiopia, so beginning the last phase of his wild, infamous and short life. By the age of twenty-one, Rimbaud had renounced Paul Verlaine and poetry for a vagabond tour of Europe — tutor, beggar, docker, factory worker, soldier, thief, and more. By the age of twenty-five, he had renounced Europe for Africa, becoming at first a coffee trader and then turning to gun-running (and possibly slave-trading) as a get-rich scheme, he tells his mother:

“I have left my job in Aden after a violent altercation with those pathetic peasants who want to stupefy me for good…. They did all they could to hold on to me, but I sent them to hell, with all their offers and their deals, and their horrible office, and their filthy town…. Several thousand rifles are on their way to me from Europe. I am going to set up a caravan, and carry this merchandise to Menelik, the king of Shoa [Abyssinia]…”