“The Sleeper in the Valley” by Arthur Rimbaud

It is a green hollow where a stream gurgles,
Crazily catching silver rags of itself on the grasses;
Where the sun shines from the proud mountain:
It is a little valley bubbling over with light.

A young soldier, open-mouthed, bare-headed,
With the nape of his neck bathed in cool blue cresses,
Sleeps; he is stretched out on the grass, under the sky,
Pale on his green bed where the light falls like rain.

His feet in the yellow flags, he lies sleeping. Smiling as
A sick child might smile, he is having a nap:
Cradle him warmly, Nature: he is cold.

No odour makes his nostrils quiver;
He sleeps in the sun, his hand on his breast
At peace. There are two red holes in his right side.

As translated by Oliver Bernard: Arthur Rimbaud, Collected Poems (1962)

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

6 replies on ““The Sleeper in the Valley” by Arthur Rimbaud”

what do you think it means, i think the soldier is wounded both mentally and physically, he is maybe even dead, and he cant see the peace and beauty around him, but lays at rest in the valley. so sad, melancholyyyyyyy

The inspiration from the poem came from the fact that he was shot by his best friend. The valley lures you away. This poem conveys a message that some things are not always as they seem to be. Kind of like he thought he was in the company of a good friend, but he ended up being shot, hence the two bullet holes in the soldiers side.

“Sleeps” is a metaphor; the soldier is cold, pale and dead. Nemy, this was written before he met Verlaine, this had nothing to do with him being shot in the wrist.

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