My Bohemian Life (Fantasy) | Arthur Rimbaud, 1870

Original handwritten manuscript of Arthur Rimbaud’s poem, Ma bohême 



I went off with my hands in my torn coat pockets;
My overcoat too was becoming ideal;
I travelled beneath the sky, Muse! and I was your vassal;
Oh dear me! what marvellous loves I dreamed of!

My only pair of breeches had a big whole in them.
– Stargazing Tom Thumb, I sowed rhymes along my way.
My tavern was at the Sign of the Great Bear.
– My stars in the sky rustled softly.

And I listened to them, sitting on the road-sides
On those pleasant September evenings while I felt drops
Of dew on my forehead like vigorous wine;

And while, rhyming among the fantastical shadows,
I plucked like the strings of a lyre the elastics
Of my tattered boots, one foot close to my heart!

Translated by Oliver Bernard


The sonnet Ma bohême  (My Bohemian Life) was written around the time of his sixteenth birthday in October 1870,
and lyrically recalls Rimbaud's magic fortnight of freedom wandering in southern Belgium.


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Bob Dylan, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, 1965 >

The lyrics incorporate literary references to Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano, Edgar Allan Poe’s

“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels, while the song’s title

references Arthur Rimbaud’s “My Bohemian Life (Fantasy)”

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