Response to Arthur Rimbaud’s Synaesthesia

Rimbaud is a gifted artist and poet. One of his poems, The Seekers of Lice, can pierce through the imagination and feel what the writer is saying. One seems to experience what he’s feeling as spoken by the poem. Synesthesia is a technique that was used effectively by Rimbaud. The combinations of words were appropriately chosen to express what he’s thinking and what he wants his readers to perceive. One can vividly imagine what he’s experiencing at that moment that he is aptly describing through poetry. The words used to describe what the writer is sensing plays in the imagination.

It stirs emotions within while reading Rimbaud’s poem. And this technique is a very effective tool to convey what the poet wanted to deliver to the reader and that is through Synaesthesia. The term “synaesthesia” in the arts,’ has historically referred to a wide variety of artistic experiments, in order to synthesize different art disciplines, such as in music and painting; as can be observed in the genres of visual music, abstract film, computer animation, symbolist poetry, and multimedia and intermedial art’. (Thereminvox.

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com, 2004) The human senses: touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing possess synesthetic characteristics which invoke synesthetic experience in all forms of art including poetry. (Heyrman, 2005) It refers to the passing on of qualities from one sense to another, example: transfer from taste to sight or translation of sight to color. Its aim is to unify all the senses to fulfill that synaesthetic experience. In Rimbaud’s poem, “Vowels”, he used different colors to start particular letters which is a very distinct style of synesthetes.

One is said to hear specific colors when one sees a particular color. One example that was described by a blind man, according to John Locke, is that he sees red when he hears the trumpet. Through this particular mode, artists can let the individual feel what he/she exactly wants him/her to feel by looking at his work if it’s a painting or sculpture, listening to a musician’s composition or hearing a poet’s lyrics in his poem. In another poem of Rimbaud, “The Seekers of Lice”, one can dramatically feel the narration of the poet of his sensual experience.

His description of what is transpiring can have your mind rolling about the details of the poem. Here are some lines that convey of the poet’s experience: He hears the sighing of their cautious breath, That flows with long roseate vegetal honeys, And is interrupted sometimes by a hiss, Saliva caught on the lips or desire to kiss. The metaphors that Rimbaud used clearly convey what he must have experienced with prostitutes. He has described the sensual pleasure he has derived from engaging such an interaction with them.

And through synesthesia, sensations can be united, which is happening simultaneously. All the senses melt into unification which is effectively making the reader feel the writer’s experience. Synaethesia has been an effective medium for artists in this century owing it to early practitioners such as Rimbaud who is also a Symbolist. Objects can be associated to the senses to strongly deliver the message of the artist/writer. Widely used nowadays by the media, technology has even helped innovate on this technique.

In terms of poetry, lines like that of Rimbaud’s poem, “Vowels”, colors have been added on the letters which affect the senses of the reader.

Works Cited

Heyrman, D. H. (2005, July 25). Art and Synesthesia: In Search of the Synesthetic Experience. Retrieved May 2, 2010, from ArteCitta: http://www. doctorhugo. org/synaesthesia/art/index. html Thereminvox. com. (2004, February 4). Synaesthesia. Retrieved May 2, 2010, from Thereminvox. com: http://www. thereminvox. com/article/articleview/86/1/16/


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