PARIS (AFP) — An unknown work by the French 19th-century poet Arthur Rimbaud has been uncovered in a newspaper back issue in his hometown in northeastern France, a local bookseller said on Thursday.
"Bismarck's dream", a prose text running to around 50 lines, was published on November 25, 1870 in the local newspaper Le Progres des Ardennes, under the name Jean Baudry.
Baudry is one of several well-known pseudonyms used by Rimbaud, who wrote the poem -- a patriotic text penned during the Franco-Prussian war and targeting the Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck -- at the age of 16.
"It is evening time. Beneath his tent, full of silence and dreams, Bismarck meditates, a finger on the map of France," it reads.
Francois Quinart, a local bookseller from Charleville Mezieres, Rimbaud's birthplace in northeastern France, said he acquired the poem -- unwittingly -- in a carton of old books and newspapers bought from an elderly woman.
He put the newspapers under plastic and carted them around bookfairs and salons until a young filmmaker who had shot a documentary about Rimbaud, Patrick Taliercio, bought them for a few dozen euros in April.
"He came back to see me two days later, saying 'Did you see that article, it's Rimbaud!'," said Quinart.
Quoted in Le Figaro newspaper, the Rimbaud scholar Jean-Jacques Lefrere confirmed the discovery.
"It's a fine, metaphorical text, showing true mastery," he said, adding that experts now hoped to find more texts buried in the local archives.
Born in 1854, Rimbaud produced his most visionary works, such as the influential "The Drunken Boat", "Illuminations" or "A Season in Hell", while still in his teens.
The boy genius spent years leading a wild, vagabond life spiced by absinthe and hashish along with his lover, the married poet Paul Verlaine, to the horror of the French bourgeoisie.
But Rimbaud had given up writing by the age of 21, turning to a life of travel and trade from Europe to Indonesia, and finally Abyssinia -- now Ethiopia. He died of cancer weeks after his 37th birthday.
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