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Rimbaud's drawings, poem up for auction

The poem "La riviere de Cassis", written by French poet Arthur Rimbaud in 1872, will be auctioned at Sotheby's Paris on February 8, 2017.
The poem "La riviere de Cassis", written by French poet Arthur Rimbaud in 1872, will be auctioned at Sotheby's Paris on February 8, 2017. François Guillot/AFP

The first known drawings by French poet Arthur Rimbaud and handwritten poem given to his lover Paul Verlaine will go under the hammer in Paris on February 8.

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Seven drawings, sketched in 1865 when Rimbaud was 10, are up for auction. They are valued by auction house Sotheby's at between 100,000 and 150,000 euros.

"These exceptional drawings, still privately owned, are the only ones that have been attributed with certainty to the poet," Sotheby experts Frederique Parent and Benoit Puttemans wrote in the presentation of the works. "They reflect the universe of a young poet who is already critical of the world around him."

Entitled The pleasures of youth, the collection includes six pen-and-ink sketches and a seventh in pencil.

Cartoon-like images

Signed A. Rimbaud, the cartoon-like images -- some of which have speech bubbles -- were drawn on two sides of a page from a notebook.

"These drawings reflect the universe of a child of his age: games imitating the lives of adults, sledging, games involving navigation, swings or gardening," Sotheby's said.
"More specifically, the boy is reflecting his family circle."

Poem for Verlaine

A handwritten version of his 1872 poem The Cassis River given to his lover and fellow poet Paul Verlaine a year before their fiery breakup, is also up for auction.

That poem, the only handwritten one left in private hands, is valued by auction house Sotheby's at between 200,000 and 300,000 euros.

Rimbaud had a tempestuous two-year romance with Verlaine when he was a teenager, which ended in a drunken row in 1873 when Verlaine shot Rimbaud, hitting him in the wrist.

The boy poet, celebrated for his works including The Drunken Boat and Illuminations, abandoned poetry at age 21. He then travelled throughout Europe, followed by Indonesia in 1876, and on to the Middle East and Africa.

Other items from Rimbaud

One is a book Rimbaud received as a prize at school for getting good marks when he was 15.

The other is a receipt that dates back to Rimbaud's time as an arms trafficker in Africa, long after he had abandoned poetry.

The receipt recaps two months of Rimbaud's weapons' sales in 1889, organised for King Menelik II in what was then known as Abyssinia, and is now Ethiopia.

His legend and works influenced not only Surrealists but the US Beat poets, songwriters like Bob Dylan and Patti Smith, and filmmakers who have sought to capture his rebellious spirit.

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