Monday, May 31, 2010


Flipping through an old nature magazine yesterday I came across two photos: on the left page, a picture of a bright bluebird; on the right, a picture of a bleak mountain road. Immediately I was reminded of one of Bukowski's most famous poems.

* * *

                                        there's a bluebird in my heart that
                                        wants to get out
                                        but I'm too tough for him,
                                        I say, stay in there, I'm not going
                                        to let anybody see

                                        there's a bluebird in my heart that
                                        wants to get out
                                        but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
                                        cigarette smoke
                                        and the whores and the bartenders
                                        and the grocery clerks
                                        never know that
                                        in there.

                                        there's a bluebird in my heart that
                                        wants to get out
                                        but I'm too tough for him,
                                        I say,
                                        stay down, do you want to mess
                                        me up?
                                        you want to screw up the
                                        you want to blow my book sales in

                                        there's a bluebird in my heart that
                                        wants to get out
                                        but I'm too clever, I only let him out
                                        at night sometimes
                                        when everybody's asleep.
                                        I say, I know that you're there,
                                        so don't be
                                        then I put him back,
                                        but he's singing a little
                                        in there, I haven't quite let him
                                        and we sleep together like
                                        with our
                                        secret pact
                                        and it's nice enough to
                                        make a man
                                        weep, but I don't
                                        weep, do

bukowski bluebird

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mystery in Aden, part III

(parts I, II, IV)

If the faces in the following photos are the same person:

Henri Lucereau                                                                                                  (Henri Lucereau)

And the faces in these photos are the same person:

Alfred Bardey                                                                                                  (Alfred Bardey)

Then the faces below are almost certainly not the same person:

new rimbaud photo comparison                                                                                                  (Arthur Rimbaud)

* * *

Someone recently dug up a picture of Henri Lucereau and posted it online, and shortly thereafter it was revealed that Jean-Jacques Lefrère was soon to publish an article confirming that the man standing upright behind the others in the recent Aden/Rimbaud photo is indeed the young French explorer. (This was apparently established via contact with his descendants combined with the aid of three other photographs.) Knowing that this man is Lucereau -- assuming one of the other faces is correctly identified as Rimbaud -- provides important information because it helps date the photograph. (For more on Lucereau and why he's a figure of interest, see my previous post.)

It is known that Lucereau left Aden in July 1880 and was killed in the surroundings of Harar on October 20, 1880. Rimbaud arrived in Aden some time during the first half of August (possibly the 7th). Lucereau made a last passage through Aden between July and October, which, it has been said, can be dated to approximately the 10 - 20th of August. And at that time, Lucereau stayed at the Universe Hotel. Therefore, the photograph must be from August 1880 if both Lucereau and Rimbaud are in it.

The problem, however, is that Bardey was not in Aden for the entire month of August; he left in July to make his way towards Zeila, a port city on the Gulf of Aden. (He arrived in Harar around August 22.) Therefore, Bardey next to Lucereau excludes Rimbaud; the three of them simply cannot be there together at the Universe Hotel in August. Now, previously Jean-Jacques Lefrère said he was certain the man sitting on the end was Alfred Bardey, yet he's no longer sure (and thinks it probably isn't). More information is coming sometime in June, Lefrère says, that will hopefully clear up some of these issues. (Items dropped off at the Charleville-Mézières Rimbaud museum by Bardey's descendants, I think.) Indeed, Lefrère still believes it's Arthur Rimbaud in the photo (so do I). But we must wait to see the other portraits of Alfred Bardey, and also his brother, Pierre. And personally I would like to see pictures of Maurice Riès (bearded, second from left?), Cesar Tian, Vittorio and Giuseppe Bienenfeld, D. Pinchard, and a few others.

But who is that man, if not Bardey? Lefrère doesn't rule out the possibility that it's Colonel Dubar (brother-in-law of Jules Suel), or even Suel himself, who apparently is no longer marked as the checkered man in the photo. Bardey was only 26 in 1880, yet, in 1883 -- the year of the known photograph taken of him (see above) -- he's less-bald than he was three years earlier! I can think of no explanation for this except that he shaved his head in some bizarre style, which seems very far-fetched. Plus, he looks older -- or too old for 26 -- if that's really him in the Aden photo. (It is true that, once I finally decided it was probably Rimbaud in the photo, I also thought it was Bardey on the far left. If that's Rimbaud, I thought, then voila! that must be Bardey, his bearded boss! ...But I also didn't know that the picture of him I'm familiar with was taken after the Aden photo. Knowing this, it doesn't match up.)

Also worth noting: apparently there is a letter in which Bardey describes the chairs on the terrace of the Universe Hotel, and his description doesn't fit the chairs in the newly discovered photo...

* * *

Here is another photograph (Aden, around 1880) that was recovered in the same batch as the one being discussed. It's too blurry, I think, for anyone to make claims about any of the identities. Still, there is that mysterious figure at the center, le mythe de Rimbaud, and our imagination:

* * *

Finally, here are all the best photos (and comparisons) I could find of Rimbaud (mostly thanks to the great detective work done by members of the Rimbaud forum). Ones that appear to be pictures I've already posted are best enlarged because they are in fact the sharpest (and largest) versions I've been able to find.

* * *

rimbaud 1880 aden universe hotelnew rimbaud photonew rimbaud picture universe hotelnew rimbaud photo adenuniverse hotel aden l'universenew rimbaud photorimbaud comparison new picture africarimbaud photo comparisonsrimbaud photo comparisonsrimbaud photo comparisonsrimbaud carjat octoberrimbaud photograph compositerimbaud composite 1880 aden
The following photo will be familiar to all Rimbaud enthusiasts but I'm posting it because I've never seen it so cleaned up:

rimbaud in africarimbaud in africa

Friday, May 21, 2010