Monday, January 2, 2017

Dorin Popa writes

what did you do with my days
what did you do with my nights
with my young arms what did you do?

in momentary sparklings,
amid calamities and curses,
I sometimes do perceive, drunken with fury,
my vanquished, withered and shameful image

my whole shivering
can hardly whimper, can hardly touch
the big wheels

in this world
that killed my world,
in this slanting, disfigured
in this world I have to
find my own relief

 The Menin Road -- Paul Nash

1 comment:

  1. The Battle of the Menin Road was the third British general attack at the Third Battle of Ypres in the Great War, from 20–25 September 1917. The British lost 3,148 killed, 13,864 wounded, and 3,243 taken prisoner; German losses were 25,000 casualties, including 6,500 missing in action. Before the war, Paul Nash had specialized in painting burial mounds. He was sent to the Ypres salient in February 1917, but no major engagements took place while he was there. In May he brok a rib when h fell into a trnch and was invalided back to London, a few days before his unit was wiped out in an assault on Hill 60. Charles Masterman, the head of the War Propaganda Bureau, sent him back to Ypres in November as an official war artist. He took great risks to get as close as possible to the frontline trenches and sometimes made a dozen drawings a day, and voluntarily extended his tour of duty to work in the Canadian sector at Vimy. In his combined six weeks on the Western Front he completed "fifty drawings of muddy places." Early in his stint as war artist he wrote his wife that "I have seen the most frightful nightmare of a country more conceived by Dante or Poe than by nature, unspeakable, utterly indescribable. In the fifteen drawings I have made I may give you some idea of its horror, but only being in it and of it can ever make you sensible of its dreadful nature and of what our men in France have to face. We all have a vague notion of the terrors of a battle, and can conjure up with the aid of some of the more inspired war correspondents and the pictures in the Daily Mirror some vision of battlefield; but no pen or drawing can convey this country—the normal setting of the battles taking place day and night, month after month. Evil and the incarnate fiend alone can be master of this war, and no glimmer of God's hand is seen anywhere. Sunset and sunrise are blasphemous, they are mockeries to man, only the black rain out of the bruised and swollen clouds all though the bitter black night is fit atmosphere in such a land. The rain drives on, the stinking mud becomes more evilly yellow, the shell holes fill up with green-white water, the roads and tracks are covered in inches of slime, the black dying trees ooze and sweat and the shells never cease. They alone plunge overhead, tearing away the rotting tree stumps, breaking the plank roads, striking down horses and mules, annihilating, maining, maddening, they plunge into the grave, and cast up on it the poor dead. It is unspeakable, godless, hopeless. I am no longer an artist interested and curious, I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on for ever. Feeble, inarticulate, will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth, and may it burn their lousy souls." In April the British War Memorials Committee under Max Aitken (who was also the minister of information) commissioned Nash to paint a battlefield scene for a projected Hall of Remembrance, which he completed between June and February 1919, working primarily in a herb drying shed at Tubbs Farm near Chalfont St Peter in Buckinghamshire, which he shared with his younger brother John, who was painting "Over the Top" (John had been one of the 12 survivors of 80 who had survived theit advance on Marcoing near Cambrai three months earlier.) When they had to leave the shed, Nash worked at three other locations, finally completing it in a room in Gower St. in London. The room was so small that Nash had to climb out the window to view the 60-square-foot (5.6 sq m) canvas in full.


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