Arthur Rimbaud and modern culture  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Rimbaud and modern culture - The influence of 19th century French poet Arthur Rimbaud on modern literature, music and art has been pervasive.



  • Dylan Thomas - The Welsh poet described himself as 'the Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive'
  • Thomas Ligotti - This horror writer has shown a fondness for Rimbaud's work.
  • Patti Smith wrote two poems about Rimbaud: "Dream of Rimbaud," from her book Witt, and "Rimbaud Dead", from Babel.


  • Alternative TV - The early UK punk band references Rimbaud in their song "Viva La Rock and Roll": "Arthur Rimbaud spoke to me/Through New York's New Wave".
  • Bob Dylan - Dylan confesses his love for Rimbaud's poetry in his autobiography, Chronicles: Volume One. He refers to Rimbaud in his song "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" from Blood on the Tracks: "Situations have ended sad, / Relationships have all been bad. / Mine've been like Verlaine's and Rimbaud. / But there's no way I can compare / All them scenes to this affair, / You're gonna make me lonesome when you go."
  • Courtney Love - In her book Dirty Blonde, a collection of her diaries, Courtney has a pasted picture of Rimbaud among the pages.
  • Crass - Co-founder and drummer Penny Rimbaud named himself as a tribute to Arthur Rimbaud, the 'Penny' being a pun on the phrase "arfer (half a) penny", referring to the long discontinued British Ha'penny coin.
  • Frou Frou - The British electronica duo take their name from a Rimbaud poem.
  • Larrikin Love - Their 2005 single Happy As Annie takes its image of a corpse being mistaken for a sleeping person from Rimbaud's poem Asleep In The Valley.
  • Patti Smith - The poet and "Godmother of Punk" has a line in her song "Land" where she urges the listener to "Do the watusi/ And go Rimbaud! Go Rimbaud!"
  • Theatres des Vampires - The Italian gothic band sings (in the original French) a sentence of "Jadis, si je me souviens bien . . . " in their song "Cursed". They also include a line taken from the poem "Nuit de l'Enfer" ("Night of Hell") in their song "Lunatic Asylum", this time in English.
  • The Clash - In the song "Ghetto Defendant" on the album Combat Rock poet Allen Ginsberg refers to Rimbaud and the Paris Commune. Co-founder, lyricist, rhythm guitarist and lead singer Joe Strummer has recognized Rimbaud as an influence.
  • The Medicine Show - This London-based Rock and Roll band makes reference to the poet in their name, and chief songwriter, John Hall, openly claims Rimbaud as an inspiration in his own lyrics.
  • Too Much Joy - In their song "My Past Lives", they state "I was sick a lot when I was Rimbaud".
  • Van Morrison - Morrison was reading Rimbaud during a period in the (mid-1970s) when he "wasn't writing anything at all, and I really couldn't understand why." After learning Rimbaud had stopped writing at 26, he said, "ironically that sorta got me writing again". He then started the song, "Tore Down a la Rimbaud," but didn't finish it for eight years. He also mentions Rimbaud in the song "Foreign Window" from No Guru, No Method, No Teacher.

In film

  • Rimbaud is heavily referenced in the 1983 film Eddie and the Cruisers, and the fictional band's albums are named after Rimbaud's works (e.g., A Season in Hell).
  • In Jean-Luc Godard's film Bande à part, one of the three principal characters (who are known only by their first names), goes by "Arthur". When asked what his family name is, he declares earnestly that it is "Rimbaud". Another of Godard's movies, "Pierrot Le Fou", contains many references to Rimbaud's work, mostly in the director's narration.
  • In Pier Paolo Pasolini's movie Teorema, the mysterious visitor, played by Terence Stamp, is often seen reading a small book by Rimbaud.
  • I'm Not There, is an oblique Bob Dylan biography told through six characters. One of these characters is called Arthur Rimbaud. The film was directed and co-written by Todd Haynes.


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Arthur Rimbaud and modern culture" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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