Tonight I cut three large panels and put a first coat of Gesso on them. No works in progress but some ideas in the mind. So tonight I share with you an old watercolour quite dear to my heart.
This watercolour represents the view from our farmhouse when we lived in South Africa. I have always liked how the zig-zag composition leads the eye into that far blue space. I recall looking at this view day after day, and always thought of Rilke’s poem (below) in inverted format: the landscape waits like a besieging army. In Rilke’s poem, the image is presented in the opposite way – Rilke says the enemy is so vast – he lies outside the walls like a countryside. I feel the poem is most effective from the middle of the second verse:
He lies outside the walls like a countryside.
And he knows very well how to endure
longer than the ones he comes to visit.
Climb up on your roofs and look out:
his camp is there, and his morale doesn’t falter,
and his numbers do not decrease; he will not grow weaker,
and he sends no one into the city to threaten
or promise, and no one to negotiate.
He is the one who breaks down the walls,
and when he works, he works in silence.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Poem #15 in Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke, by Robert Bly
I love how Bly discusses this poem in the beautiful introductory essay. He likens the “Enemy” of Rilke’s poem to an awakening force that can break the husk of day-to-day life that keeps so many of us trapped. Bly says:
When I translated the last few lines, I felt frightened; the lines imply that the awakening force will not make the first move; perhaps no one will come to help, no parents, no gurus…When the walls break, Rilke says, they break “in silence”.
Thanks so much to all of you who have encouraged me. I have scraped off parts of my last Painting #31 and tonight – after preparing some panels – I reworked the darks a bit. Something is coming alive there in the shadows…