Study Guide

A Season in Hell What's Up With the Title?

By Arthur Rimbaud

What's Up With the Title?

Some poems come at you with titles that are like tricky puzzles, leaving you to scratch your head while pondering their connection to the work itself. If you have a sensitive scalp, though, you're in luck. "A Season is Hell" is about as straightforward as they come.

On the surface of things, that's because the poem describes the speaker's time in figurative hell, where he winds up after a falling out with his "companion," who describes him as an "infernal Spouse." He's tormented by life in general, and he hates on, well, pretty much everything. This includes religion, science, and pretty much the whole of Western civilization.

So why not take off and get out of there? It sounds like an obvious solution, but the speaker seems to be either too lazy, too fearful, or both. As a result, he's stuck in a bad place, one that any of us who have gone through a break-up might recognize. It's not all doom and gloom, though. The poem ends on a hopeful note, one that's hidden in the title itself: "season." This indicates that the speaker's time in Bummertown will pass. For his sake, we sure hope so.

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