Alpine Rimbaud

Here you are, not a shadow above or below or around you, even though surrounded by enormous objects; there is no more trail, no more precipices and gorges, no more sky; there is nothing but whiteness to think of, to touch, to see or not to see, it being impossible to raise your eyes from the white pointlessness [l’embĂȘtement blanc] which you take to be the middle of the trail; impossible to raise your nose into the raging of the north wind; your eyelashes and moustache forming stalactites, your ears nearly torn off, your neck swollen. Without your own shadow, and the telegraph poles which follow the supposed trail, you’d be as hopeless as a sparrow in the oven.

Arthur Rimbaud, in his account of crossing the Alps in 1878, quoted in Somebody Else : Arthur Rimbaud In Africa 1880-91 by Charles Nicholl (1997)

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