Wednesday, October 27, 2010

countdown to Halloween: Fernand Khnopff

"The element of perversity in Khnopff's work is very marked - and has one strange characteristic of its own, in that the feminine types he used in his compositions all seem to be based upon his sister, whose beauty obsessed him. Dumont-Wilden gives an eloquent description of the kind of emotion Khnopff tries to convey, speaking of 'these feminine physiognomies, at the same time energetic and languid, where the desire for what is impossible and the anguished thirst of unslakeable passions assert themselves; singular and heroic souls, whose chosen heroine must always be Elizabeth of Austria."

Fernand Khnopff (1858-1921), I Lock the Door upon Myself, 1891, Oil on canvas, 72 x 140 cm. Bavarian Museum, Munich.

Who Shall Deliver Me?

God strengthen me to bear myself,
That heaviest weight of all to bear,
Inalienable weight of care.

All others are outside myself;
I lock my door and bar them out,
The turmoil, tedium, gad-about.

I lock my door upon myself,
And bar them out; but who shall wall
Self from myself, most loathed of all?

If I could once lay down myself,
And start self-purged upon the race
That all must run! Death runs apace.

If I could set aside myself,
And start with lightened heart upon
The road by all men overgone!

God harden me against myself,
This coward with pathetic voice
Who craves for ease, and rest, and joys:

Myself, arch-traitor to myself;
My hollowest friend, my deadliest foe,
My clog whatever road I go.

Yet One there is can curb myself,
Can roll the strangling load from me,
Break off the yoke and set me free.
- Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

(Source for Khnopff quote: Symbolist Art by Edward Lucie-Smith, published by Thames and Hudson, Inc., New York, NY © 1985; Source for poem: The Works of Christina Rossetti, with an Introduction by Martin Corner and Bibliography, published by Wordsworth Editions Ltd., Hertfordshire, England © 1995)

Pete Townshend - Let My Love Open The Door

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