Monday, 23 May 2011

Art and Love and Annemarie's Vision

It's a familiar feeling isn't it, the one described by Erin, in her comment On A Year with Rilke – this closeness to someone when their art touches you, someone one has never met, who may not even be alive....

[she wrote, of Chagall - i don't know how to write his name without saying, dear marc... ]

This love for the distant, for those-not-there and maybe long dead, so-called...

And I was looking at the photo of Annemarie Schwarzenbach, and how she leans on someone else half possessive half afraid, and looks the other way, not at her, she looks to the roadside, sombre, her expression dreamy, her stance though, is robust, determined....She is standing on the road beside the car, and her companion sits on the car bonnet, this famous car they drove across the orient, and she leans against her companion's leg and looks the other way. Ella, her companion, also writer and seeker for life's meaning, traveller, one who sets off and travels into yet more life, she smiles, and her hand rests on her companion's shoulder, the one who leans onto the bonnet of her car and onto Ella's leg so comfortable so intimate, or – so determined to be close, so close as water is, or weather, she says, look, this is as natural as sunlight and will not look her feelings in the eye, she has to look away.

I address my thoughts to her I say, as I translate her work, is this a good word, what did you think, what did you feel, how much of what you did not write is there in that gesture, that longing for consolation, that no-one ever gave you, ever, but a tree gave you, somewhere in Africa, in the Congo, somewhere during the war as you wrote reports and people acted wary of you, there were rumours that you were a spy, because you spoke the language of the enemy, a German-speaking Swiss, hardly to be trusted. No consolation there. But then there was this tree -

A tree gave it to you – vision, consolation, breaking up perceptions into shards of light and colour. A tree in Africa. Strangely, what you wrote about that tree, after you'd returned to Engadine, was never published so I think, it lies in some vault in Berne, in Switzerland, for your friends said, no, that's not the way to write about it, try –

and then you died. You had your vision, and you left, ange inconsolable, as Roger Martin du Gard called you. I am travelling in your writing's footsteps, listening for the echo of the unsaid, the hand you grasped then - when it slipped from yours, the journey to the mountains in an Afghan winter, pressing other hands into your own, but always leaving empty handed.

I wish I was that tree, the rainforest, the heat, the light that reached you, Annemarie.

[I read about the details of Annemarie Schwarzenbach's life, and her vision in Africa, in Dominique Laure Miermont's biography of her.]


Forest Dream Weaver said...

Lovely post...... I hadn't thought before about how close one must get to someone when translating their work.It's strange thinking of writing or art of any kind sleeping in a vault unseen....but then hopefully being awakened at the right moment in time.

I love large old American cars and this one is amazing!

Ruby xx

lines n shades said...

wonderful blog.. glad to have stopped by.. :)

dritanje said...

Thanks Ruby, I'm hoping someone will publish her ms one day and also that someone will translate it. Yes it's a great car isn't It?

And thanks Lines and Shades for dropping by. hope you will again!

Morelle x

three sea horses said...

loved reading this, directed here by your most recent post The Buddhas of Bamiyan.
have often thought you are rather like these women of days gone by who travelled alone, those interpid people, before travelling was so easy to do, because you still travel in a less than easy fashion yourself!