Paul Klee by Paul Eluard – translated by Nancy Kline
by Steven McCabe
On the death-dealing slope, the traveler makes use
Of the favor of day, the slippery frost, no small stones,
And eyes blue with love he discovers his season
Beringed on all fingers with stars.
On the beach the sea has relinquished its ears
And the sand digs the spot for a beautiful crime.
Torture is harder for hangmen than victims
Bullets are tears and daggers are signs.
Capital of Pain, Black Widow Press, 2006
translated by Mary Ann Caws, Patricia Terry, Nancy Kline
originally published 1926.
I was apprehensive about applying my images to a poem about Paul Klee. Klee is one of my favourite artists for many reasons. He used line masterfully. His sense of colour and texture was both magical and visceral. He was intellectual as well as full of child-like wonder. He experimented imaginatively while rigorously creating an expanding body of work. This poem by Eluard is like a prism capturing various realities & dimensions one might encounter in Klee’s art. I wanted to depict the sensibility & feel of the poem but I wasn’t sure how I felt about making images about somebody who made images. And I didn’t want to copy Klee in any sort of obvious manner. I shared this concern with Nancy Kline, the translator of this poem & many of the poems in Capital of Pain. Nancy suggested that one visual artist interpreting another might be an worthwhile experience yielding interesting results. And with this encouragement in mind I worked on composing images that hopefully come near the boundaries of ‘Klee-ism.’
Stop worrying, you’ve really captured his spirit.
Thank you Michel. Yes, I was sort of worried. Okay I’ll take your word for it and feel happy about the successful mission. Your thought is appreciated!
What a challenge to take on Paul Klee but you transformed his work giving it your very own signature like you transmuted it.
Also a in my opinion beautifully translated Paul Eluard!
Hi Catharine, I appreciate your thoughts on the images and your expressive circular thought of transform, transmute, translate. I’m sure Nancy Kline will appreciate hearing your thoughts also.
Klee has come in and out of my life at various times. One afternoon over 20 years ago I did a mixed-media piece on paper called ‘At the End of Avenue 42K.” I had no idea why. Later that day I was reading about Klee (many books on PK picked up over the years). and read that his remains were moved to their final resting place in 1942!
I’m sure I’m not the only one tuning in to a Klee frequency now and then!
Oh brilliant, Steven. They are like Klee whispers coming out of the pages.
I love that idea of Klee whispers… coming out of the page. Sound out of silence. That opens up a new avenue of thought. Thanks very much Karen.
I love the challenge of engaging your work, Steven. There is a mysterious intentionality to each image and their relationships to the text. The images emerging from the text in this case are so much like the light of a revelation through a curtain. Through a veil, almost hidden-ancient mysteries pass by. Beautiful images – and honoring to Klee, worthy of his night gardens and festivals.
Thank you Jack for the time to formulate this thought. I’m intrigued with the word curtain…As if the pages were a curtain revealing some sort of oasis…I appreciate this poem awakening me, from my normal sleep, to Klee’s mystical surrealism (I”m not sure what else to call it)…presenting evidence of the unseen world….the ‘intentionality’ you describe is non-linear but deliberate…going at the visuals and reworking, reworking…until the mystery (texture and feeling) surfaces…
Jack, above, has spoken for me also – the veil, the curtain – the mysteries of his work – amazing post my friend…
Thank you John, Perhaps Klee was all about…the veil & mysteries….& to respond to Klee, with any affinity one might have for Klee, perhaps results in ………..Klee (?)