japonisme: 3/6/11 - 3/13/11

12 March 2011

the great mystical circus


Frederick Knieps,
Physician of the Bed Chamber,
to the Empress Teresa,
resolved that his son
should be a doctor,
but the youth, having established relations with Agnes,
the tightrope artist,
married her,
and founded the circus dynasty of Knieps
with which the newspapers are so much concerned.

Charlotte, the daughter of Frederick, married the clown,
whence sprang Marie and Otto.
Otto married Lily Braun,
the celebrated contortionist,
who had a saint's image
tattooed on her belly.
The daughter of Lily Braun --
she of the tattooed belly --
wanted to enter a convent,

but Otto Frederick Knieps would not consent,
and Margaret continued the circus dynasty
with which the newspapers
are so much concerned.
Then Margaret had her body tattooed,
suffering greatly for the love of God,
and caused to be engraved on her rosy skin
the Fourteen Stations of Our Lord's Passion.

No tiger ever attacked her;
the lion Nero, who had already eaten two ventriloquists,
when she entered his cage nude,
cried like a newborn babe.

Her husband, the trapeze artist Ludwig, never could love her thereafter,
because the sacred engravings obliterated
both her skin and her desire.
Then the pugilist Rudolph,
who was an atheist
and a cruel man,
attacked Margaret and violated her.
After this, he was converted and died.

Margaret bore two daughters who are the wonder of
the Knieps's Great Circus.
But the greatest of miracles is their virginity
against which bankers and gentlemen with monocles
beat in vain;

their levitations, which the audience thinks a fraud;
their chastity, in which nobody believes;
their magic, which the simple-minded say is the devil's;

yet the children believe in them, are their faithful followers, their friends, their devoted worshipers.
Marie and Helene perform nude;
they dance on the wire and so dislocate their limbs
that their arms and legs
no longer appear their own.

The spectators shout encore to thighs,
encore to breasts,
encore to armpits.

Marie and Helene give themselves wholly,
and are shared by cynical men,
but their souls, which nobody sees,
they keep pure.
And when they display their limbs
in the sight of men,
they display their souls in the sight of God.
With the true history
of Knieps' s Great Circus
the newspapers are very little concerned.

Jorge de Lima

translated by Dudley Poore

(why did this poem appeal to me so strongly at this moment? serendipity. the largest labor demonstration is the country's history. nuclear meltdown. a flood of people, facing potential optimism, in madison, in lansing. a flood of mud, a flood of blue and white cars, people facing certain despair. i think i will kiss a bear and dance with a skeleton.)

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11 March 2011

things fall apart


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre
cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed,
and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction,
while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those
words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands
of the desert
A shape with lion body and the
head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all
about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

W. B. Yeats

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10 March 2011

flowering parable


eine dunkle rote rose
brech ich der zum scheidegrusse
deiner liebe bluhend gleichnis
dornig zeichen meiner busse
dornen einzig hal mein lieben
scharfe dornen dir beschieden
ach verbieg, dem niemals wieder
ein rose blühte hienieden!


a dark red rose
I break for the farewell
your love flowering parable
Spiny sign my coach
thorns only keep my love
sharp thorns you allotted
ah bend, the never again
a rose bloomed here below!

reinhard volker

i don't think you could find a worse translation than this google one (unless of course you used a babelfish one). while i could somehow make some of the hoytema translations rhyme, i was at a complete loss here. i guess several reasons: german sounds less like english than dutch does? the translation would make more sense were it translated by someone who actually knows german? please feel free to try your hand.

in any case, this may serve to illustrate the fact that not having been around for these grand magazines doesn't always mean you missed something. this is from meggendorfer blatter, vol. 61, 1905. i scanned the image (on my very poor scanner) from the book i alluded to earlier, la linea viennese, by giovanni fanelli, published in italy by cantini in 1989.

note the chop created by mila von luttich. big M, then a medium-sized L with a teensy V attached fit into the M. this is still not one of my absolute favorites of hers, but i wanted to try the poem thing. she had the ability to embrace many of the styles that were floating around in those times, and still make them her own. more to come.

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08 March 2011

do you see yourself here?

SLOWLY: a plainsong from an older woman to a younger woman

am I not....olden olden olden
it is unwanted.

am I not....broken

am I not crinkled cranky poison
am I not glinty-eyed and frozen

am I not....aged
am I not....hazy

am I not....only
am I not....simple

was I not....over

it is a long story
will you be proud to be my version?

it is unwritten.

am I not....ancient

am I not....able
was I not....building

was I not....ruling
was I not....brazen

even the stones would do my bidding?

it is a long story
am I not proud to be your version?

it is unspoken.

speaking, speaking
am I not....elder

are you not wine before you find me
in your own beaker?

Judy Grahn

“Slowly: a plainsong from an older woman to a younger woman” from love belongs to those who do the feeling: New & Selected Poems (1966-2006). Copyright © 2008 by Judy Grahn.

when i was a young feminist judy grahn was at every poetry reading reading her common woman poems (see some here). i once painted the text of one onto my kitchen wall.

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06 March 2011

the universal library

the blossoming of access to the world's archives marvels me regularly. i've recently found some which probably everyone already knows about, but in case you don't, i thought i'd tell you.

this all started when i was looking something up in my various books about vienna 1900 -- i can't even remember what now, but probably related to all the printmaker talk... and in one book, all in italian, suddenly tuned in to the fact that all of my favorite images were from someone names m. von luttich, in something called 'meggendorfer-blatter.'

time for google, of course. with that help and a bunch of poking around, i found myself here. (i have to make a depressing personal admis- sion here, that i hesitate to reveal sources because of those who steal and claim ownership; do you lock your doors just because you know the thief will be back? well, if you do, others too can only come so close, and no closer. is this how one wishes to live one's life?) not only issues of the meggen- forfer-blatter journal, but many complete issues of pan, which i have always wanted to see, plus jugend, and numerous others most of which i had never heard.

treasures galore! along with temporary disappoint- ments; not one of the issues of m-b with those of mila's pieces from my book were up yet! I found numerous others, but i still like the first ones best.

numerous other things took me by surprise: by and large, these were quite different from the, say, french journals of the same time. i know it's satire, but were all germans of the time large, unattractive, devious and angry? clearly i've found examples of otherwise, but i am left with the feeling that what we are already familiar with from the ubiquitous dover books is the best and most beautiful of the lot.

each time you click on something and end up at a new page you are given the option of switching the text to english, but if you do so, it only lasts that one page. as that was too annoying for me, most of the time, i had no idea what i was doing. what else is new?

but be sure to note that there are links on most pages that lead you to other pages, many of which offer another group of magazines. there're so many things i've not yet seen, well, let's just say i probably won't be getting much embroidery done for a bit....

what i found to be the easiest way to maneuver was to click on the 'vorschau' tab to see thumbnails of all of the pages, and go in to the ones you want. many pages are text only, and that can get a bit tired going page to page.

now, what i'm not sure of what i'll do is whether i'll wait until the issues i'm interested in are uploaded to show y'all those images, or photograph them from the book, where they're really too small. none of the periodicals displayed are a complete run, but most promise to be at some point.

in any case, if you read french or german, be prepared for some surprises of favorite poets works published, or artists you've known as textile designers, like wimmer, also turning out to be illustrators.

i hope you find some treasures so i can learn more from you.

coming up are some additions online treasures to navigate. meanwhile, can anyone figure out whose signature this is??? -- thanks.

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