Rimbaud was a libertine and a tremendous influence on modernist literature; his entire oeuvre was completed by age 21, as he quit writing poetry at age 21.
A runaway as a youth, he sent some of his poems to Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine, who sent him a one-way ticket to Paris in return. Verlaine abandoned his pregnant wife for Rimbaud, and the two began a torrid affair marked by hashish and absinthe use. Verlaine and Rimbaud left for London before Verlaine left him and returned to Paris. They met again in Brussels, where on July 10, 1873 their turbulent relationship came to a head when Verlaine shot his lover in a drunken rage. Fortunately, Rimbaud was not mortally wounded. Verlaine was sentenced to two years in prison.
After recovering from his wounds and writing his final poems, Rimbaud enlisted in the Dutch Colonial Army to get free passage to Indonesia, where he promptly went AWOL. He managed to board a ship that took him back to France. In 1878 he worked in a stone quarry in Cyprus, and two years later, he became a gunrunner in Yemen. He moved to Abyssinia began a close friendship with Ras Makonnen Wolde Mikael (father of the future emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie).
Rimbaud's poetry, as well as his life, influenced many 20th-century writers, musicians and artists, including André Breton, Dylan Thomas, Mark Bolan, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jack Kerouac, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Neal Cassady, Vladimir Nabokov, Bob Dylan, Luis Alberto Spinetta, Roberto Bolaño, Patti Smith, Pete Doherty, Tom Verlaine, Léo Ferré, Henry Miller, Van Morrison, Penny Rimbaud, Jim Morrison, and Richey Edwards.
In 1992, Hector Zazou produced a concept album titled Sahara Blue which featured the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud. The album commemorated the 100th anniversary of his death and included collaborative musical works by John Cale, Khaled, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Tim Simenon, and David Sylvian.
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