Richard Weaver 5 ekphrastic poems based on the paintings of Franz Marc
In the early part of the 20th century Franz Marc and his wife befriended a woman – Else Lasker-Schuler – who was a novelist, playwright, poet, dancer, and artist. She was also a Jew in pre-WW 1 Germany. Marc liked to paint postcards which he sent to his friends. Lasker-Schuler received 28 before Marc was killed in the war. I have taken the images and in some cases portions of the handwritten text (my German is next to impossible), as the vehicle for each poem. Marc died in 1916.
The Ancient Royal City of Thebes
Our two deer are well. They wish
to be seen by you as soon
as possible. Away from the evil
that is Berlin. You know this.
You can leave anytime, any day.
And you know you can dream here.
You know that flesh hides bone,
and rage in the heart is like salt
on a snail. Avenues open and then collapse. But what of Paul?
Must he believe or understand
the continuous odes that are your life?
Or does the ancient city of Thebes,
its wall paintings and well-preserved descendants, continue to remember
and respect the order of the dead?
When you return here as you must
the answer will be obvious.
Until then, we are devotedly yours.
The death of a father is the death of all life. My father’s death was not the beginning of my life.
I am not relieved.
It was what had to happen.
But I am fixed on the idea
that I am now free. Free from what
is beyond me. You, who have suffered more pain, who knows what it is to have given a life over to death more so than I, cannot, should not be called upon to share with me what is to come
Your magic letters complete a perfect day.
We read them in the earliest light of this newest year and rejoiced that this next year will be one of many in which we will be together, and our wondrous times will become a green pasture. Life runs from life it seems. We hide our heads from the dream shadows, from a deeper death that plagues our sleep. We run towards smoke. We run towards ash. We know the motion of the dark sea as it strikes the shore. We speak its language: rigorous, hardened by ground, moonlight and stars delighted
by our paleness. We are dreaming,
dreaming always of a vulnerable wave
or a rising hill where we can stop and rest.
Thank you for that moment’s respite.
Prince Jussuf’s Four Attendant Dogs
I know your friend and poet Georg died recently and I am remiss for not acknowledging your loss. I have no excuses to offer, none that I can pretend are worthy of your love or trust. I send instead four honored, attendant dogs to accompany you with his return to the indomitable cosmos. He was a warrior king whose gifts will one day be known. You were a worthy friend; his demons are not yours. Please know that your shadow on this earth is not an aberration. You too extend beyond this time, these twisted moments of flesh and manner; the distant crack of a mountain as it rejects its burden on snow. The avalanche of your sorrow is acknowledged by your all-knowing attendant dogs. They carry your heart across the fire and back again. You are home but not alone. You are fixed in our hearts. The wall has opened; it is your door beyond.
It is a castle only if your prince and you can attend the ceremonies. Our paint will dry in a few days, and the palace will be an empty tomb unless you and Paul visit. You are expected. Bring any animals you require. Our gardens are yours as are the stars we see. Please come and breathe the fresh air and ignore the engagement announced
on this paper. I was inspired and needed what I needed. You are always welcome with or without an invitation. Our animals look forward to your extended visit.