Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Friedrich Hölderlin: Narcyssen . . . / Jim Dine: Thistles in September

Thistle in September

 Thistle in September: Jim Dine, 2014, charcoal, pastel and watercolour on paper, 132.1 x 106 cm (courtesy of Pace Gallery)

Narcyssen Ranunklen und
Siringen aus Persien
Blümen Nelken, gezogen perlenfarb
Und schwarz und Hyacinthen,
Wie wenn es riechet, statt Musik
Des Eingangs, dort, wo böse Gedanken,
Liebende mein Sohn vergessen sollen einzugehen
Verhältnisse und diß Leben
Christophori...........der Drache vergleicht der Natur
Gang und Geist und Gestalt.

Dying Thistle

Dying Thistle: Jim Dine, 2014, charcoal, pastel and watercolour on paper, 124.5 x 102.9 cm (courtesy of Pace Gallery)

Narcissi, ranunculi and
Syringas from Persia
Carnations, bred
Flowers pearl-coloured
And black and hyacinths
As when there's a smell, instead of music
Of entry, there, where an evil thought, son
Lovers should forget to enter into
Relationships and this life
Dragon.....compares with nature's
Gait and spirit and shape

Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843): Narcyssen . . . / Narcissi . . . : hymn fragment, between 1800 and 1805, translated by Michael Hamburger in Friedrich Hölderlin: Selected Poems and Fragments, 1966

Tomatoes in September

Dying Tomatoes in September: Jim Dine, 2014, charcoal, pastel and watercolour on paper, 100.3 x 137.5 cm (courtesy of Pace Gallery)

Day Lilys on Cottonwood

Day Lilys on Cottonwood: Jim Dine, 2014, charcoal, pastel and watercolour on paper, 76.2 x 116.2 cm (courtesy of Pace Gallery)

Artichokes on the rue Madame

Artichokes on the rue Madame: Jim Dine, 2014, charcoal, pastel and watercolour on paper, 74 x 101.9 cm (courtesy of Pace Gallery)

Tucson, Winter 1947

 Tucson, Winter 1947
: Jim Dine, 2014, charcoal, pastel and watercolour on paper, 157.5 x 135.3 cm (courtesy of Pace Gallery)


Maureen said...

Wonderful post!

Wooden Boy said...

Dine's found the perfect medium for decay - the dust haze on the surface.

That fragment has the feel of a frail and threadbare tapestry with patches of moth-eaten symbolic clusters

The poem and the pictures had me thinking of this from Die Schone Mullerin.

TC said...

Many thanks, Maureen and Duncan.

I think Duncan's comment and link make a perfect response to this post.

I felt that Jim's charcoal drawings of withered and withering flowers suggest both 19th c. German botanical drawing, and a kind of overarching Germanic poetic sense of time passing and the brevity of life.

These drawings come from a new Dine show, Autumn Suite, now up in NYC.

Jim works over the winter in Europe, in the summer at his studio in southeastern Washington, where he also keeps a garden, whose fading abundance is remembered in the drawings.

Jim is the hardiest working artist I know. He will turn 80 this summer. By that time, Insh'Allah, he'll be back home again, and again hard at work.

Franz Schubert, on the other hand, was not so robust. Like that of John Keats, his working life had ended before he had got out of his twenties.

The source text for his lyric is the poetic sequence Die Schöne Müllerin by Wilhelm Müller.

Müller's poems were published in 1820, and Schubert set most of them to music between May and September 1823, at age 26. There were at this point but two years remaining in his very short life. The song cycle, composed while in hospital, has the extreme poignancy characteristic of his last works. The Müller sequence imagines a journeyman miller who, wandering happily in the countryside, comes upon a brook, which he follows to a mill where dwells a beautiful miller's daughter, with whom he falls in love. However he is quickly replaced in her attention -- and affections -- by a strapping hunter, clad all in green. The disappointed young wanderer grows obsessed with the colour green, and experiences an extravagant death fantasy in which flowers spring from his grave, indicating his undying love. But you know how it goes with love and flowers, here today gone tomorrow.

In an exchange with us about this new work -- Angelica had suggested it feels elegiac in tone -- Jim writes back: "... about the autumn suite dr[awin]gs, they do reflect the end of the evening but I also hope my love of looking and drawing."

Hölderin's poem, the fragment of a hymn, does indeed look a bit moth-eaten. But in that, it appears almost contemporary -- not only with Schubert, but with us.

The lyric of Schubert's Trockne Blume, with Engish translation interlineated:

Trockne Blumen

xvii. Trockne Blumen
Withered flowers
translation by M. Zadow

Ihr Blümlein alle, die sie mir gab,
All you little flowers, that she gave me,
Euch soll man legen mit mir ins Grab.
you shall lie with me in the grave.
Wie seht ihr alle mich an so weh,
Why do you all look at me so sadly,
Als ob ihr wüßtet, wie mir gescheh?
as if you had known what would happen?
Ihr Blümlein alle, wie welk, wie blaß?
All you little flowers, how withered, how pale!
Ihr Blümlein alle, wovon so naß?
All you little flowers, why are you so wet?

Ach, Tränen machen nicht maiengrün,
Ah, tears will not bring the green of May,
Machen tote Liebe nicht wieder blühn.
nor make dead love bloom again.
Und Lenz wird kommen, und Winter wird gehn,
And spring will come, and winter will go,
Und Blümlein werden im Grase stehn.
and little flowers will grow in the grass.
Und Blümlein liegen in meinem Grab,
and little flowers will lie in my grave,
Die Blümlein alle, die sie mir gab.
all the little flowers that she gave me.

Und wenn sie wandelt am Hügel vorbei
And when she wanders by on the hill
Und denkt im Herzen: Der meint' es treu!
and thinks in her heart: "His love was true!"
Dann, Blümlein alle, heraus, heraus!
Then, all you little flowers, come out, come out;
Der Mai ist kommen, der winter ist aus.
the spring has come; the winter is over.

(extract from the poem, Die Schöne Müllerin by Wilhelm Müller)

billoo said...

Tom, you were right about Leviathan..and stunning imagery.