Study Guide

A Season in Hell Escape

By Arthur Rimbaud

Escape

Wanna get away? Our speaker sure does. We guess that's a pretty natural reaction to, you know, being stuck in Hell. Early in the poem, he says, "Here I am on the Breton shore. How the towns glow in the evening. My day is done: I'm quitting Europe. Sea air will scorch my lungs: lost climates will tan me" (29). It's worth noting, though, that he's not just fantasizing about an all-exclusive resort here. Later in that same line he describes what he's really after: "To swim, trample the grass, hunt, above all smoke: drink hard liquors like boiling metals – as those dear ancestors did round the fire." The imagery used here reveals that this guy wants to leave his place, but also his time. Modern civilization just isn't doing it for him any more. Of course, a central tragedy of the poem is that this guy is never able to get out of town, or even out of his own tortured head for that matter. But that doesn't stop him from fantasizing about leaving the trappings of civilization behind. This guy's really looking for a permanent vacation from reality.

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