II - Far from Glory :

Ark of the Covenant ...



Let’s notice the dialectical value and the historical part this land had been playing : Our oldest prehistoric ancestor, Lucy was found there. So Nubia, Ethiopia and bordering countries were called "the Cradle of Humanity". Ethiopia’ vicinity to Egypt made it the only christian land in Africa for a long time (in the Middle-Ages under control of the priest John). Jesus Christ ( another tireless walker) operated not far from there in Palestine, at the other end of the Red Sea. Ethiopia, already monotheist since an early age, was almost christian before the rise of Christianism ! (in any case long before the translation of the Bible and before the advent of the Church in the IVth century, when this religion was officially recognized by the most powerful sovereign).

Harar, the place where Rimbaud stayed for a long time, is mostly known nowadays to be the native town of Haïlé Selassié I, King of all Kings and conquering lion of Judah’s tribe also called Ras Tafari. Ras Tafari proclaimed himself the 225th monarch in the line of Ethiopian Kings, descending from the union of Solomon with Makeba, the Queen of Saba. The legend tells that their son Menelik I, raised by his mother, went to his father at a required age, he stole the Ark of the Covenant so as to make Ethiopia the new Zion. This reminds of Rimbaud’s sentence "so the poet is really a thief of fire" ...


N.B. The Ark of the Covenant is described with a great concern for details in the Scriptures. It represented the pact made between men and God and Solomon erected a temple to venerate it. Some think that the non-believers who came near it were electrocuted so to speak because it was like a generator , a huge battery in fact, and that the statues of the cherubims that decorated it acted as the poles. Besides, Cherubims in the Bible stand for the guardians of Eden, and are rather described as strong armed angels and not as infants with small wings as it was to be seen much later.

If Menelik could leave with this Ark of the Covenant, it meant he was aware of the new pact between God and men and that Zion could be located in Ethiopia. This surely reveals a wider understanding of the notion of "the Chosen Ones". The Divinity thus certifying its support to the humans who appealed to It. That was experimented later for centuries on end. Today, but this remains secret, the Ark of the Covenant brought back by the Templars might be hidden under a famous monument in a Tumulus left unexplored even by scientists by fear of curse and electrocution.


Thus Ras Tafari, following the prophecy of another voyant (Marcus Garvey announced to the Jamaican people the imminent coming of a black monarch in Africa) and before being venerated by the rastas, was the first black sovereign in Africa in 1930,and was recognized by the contemporary monarchs and heads of states (the British Crown for example). He governed an independent Ethiopia and claimed for a certain dignity in international diplomatic relationship, then asked for help against invaders. This work of liberation was undertaken by his predecessor Menelik II, (Haïlé was regent of his daughter the young empress Zauditu), the very person who expected the caravan led by Rimbaud. Both successive Negus became famous for their military victories against italian colonizers first, and then, against the fascist troop of Mussolini. (If Haïle Selassie asserted Ethiopia’s identity, its independence was originally won by Menelik II (armed) intervention with the famous victory of Adowa in 1896 (9 years after the delivery) illustrated in one of Bob Marley’s record covers ("confrontation"). Indeed, the victorious unifying fights in the various Ethiopian areas and over the invaders (Arabs or Europeans) was already hanging over amidst those same desert lands Rimbaud was riding through.

So to speak, Rimbaud, the Voyant, in his own way fought fascism before it even existed. So Menelik II became King of the Kings in 1889, 2 years after the arms delivery by our fellow citizen Rimbaud). In his correspondence with the Consul; Arthur grumbled about his bad transactions with more cunning and problems with more powerful parties (lawers). Was this a disguised generosity ? (A. Rimbaud was renowned for his charitable behaviour in the country. He was so well-known at the end that it attracted dishonest profiteers.)


The voyant steers in darkness, and it is only with time that we realize the nature of things and how destiny uses men of good will ... In any case, Rimbaud’s activities in the East were somehow paradoxical, as was hisdecision to give up writing after the early triumph followed by the firm intention to be published. His thought processes seemed simultaneously disinterested (hehardly took any advantages of the arid exotism of the place, he did not gather a real fortune, as he could have done in getting back into the literary circles or more certainly in keeping a shop in his native Ardennes ...

Anyway as soon as he could save money, he invested it for his mother’s benefit and did not care about it anymore.) He was also motivated by interest, curiosity or rather an eagerness to explore and the taste for human contacts : (he married a Abyssinian woman, got to know Jules Borelli (a famous explorer) and his Grace Jarosseau ( Hailé Selassié’s private tutor, as well as numerous interlocutors speaking various languages according to their numerous activities).

His only pieces of writing at the time consisted of letters or reports, one was published by the Society of Geography ("report on the Ogadine", 1884) ; another on his misadventures with Menelik. But finally, even through poetry, Arthur Rimbaud was cut out to be an explorer, already in a dilettante way, since, to his poet’s mind, the only valuable study was the knowledge of oneself. He was to carry on in a search of Truth (and not of beauty as we could expect it from a poet)


" I sat Beauty on my laps and found it bitter and I insulted it " (begining of "A Season in Hell" )

I will be able to own the truth in a soul and a body ", (end of "A Season in Hell" )