by James Stevens Curl (February 2019)
The Embrace, Egon Schiele, 1917
An die ferne Geliebte
When evening comes, and shadows spread,
Remember then the times we shared:
And in your thoughts imagine well
In tenderness, the Sanctum’s bell:
A silver note, a slight caress
A whispered thought, a wantonness
That promised life, and gave, and took
All things, compressed, within our book.
I love you now, by day and night,
At eventide, in morning light:
No hour goes by without your face
Before my eyes, in some dark place
With troubles shared, distress consoled,
In blessed thoughts dispelling cold
That tightly grips, in wild dismay
The agonies throughout each day.
May every blessing Life bestows
Make yours fulfilled, for my soul knows
None other that could bring me peace
So wonderful, so calm, to cease
All stress: may gods protect you safe
Keep you radiant, lovely waif,
My joy, my lady, heart’s desire,
For no-one else could tend this fire.
Sanctum Sanctorum, Hibernia, MMXIV
Schiffe auf Reede, Caspar David Friedrich, 1816
for A M K P
A strangeness, other of that entity
as yet unformed, insinuates, invades,
with senses dimmed; and bitter longing trades
unconsciousness for lost tranquillity.
Soft voices mingle; garlands on that tree
exult in colour; indigo, the skies
above this Baltic earthly paradise,
are mirrored in the tideless, lulling sea.
Then agonies, in waves against the shore,
shatter dreams of distant sands in southern climes,
where ancient wickedness returned once more,
and Pan the Cloven laughed among the pines.
Elusive northern light betrays no key
to what disturbed the day’s sad mystery.
James Stevens Curl is a leading architectural historian, and read for his Doctorate at University College London. He was twice Visiting Fellow at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge, and is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Fellow of the Societies of Antiquaries of London and of Scotland, and a Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. His most recent books are Oxford Dictionary of Architecture (with contributions on landscape from Susan Wilson), 2015, and Making Dystopia, 2018, both published by Oxford University Press.
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