Heinrich Heine’s poems “Adam The First” and “Miserere” (excerpts) together with the painting “Adam & Eve” by Lucas Cranach

Lucas Cranach, "Adam & Eve" (1472-1553)

 ADAM THE FIRST
by Heinrich Heine

You sent me, with flaming sword,
your guard from the heavenly city,
and chased me out of Paradise
neither with right nor pity.

I’ll take my wife and we’ll move on,
to other lands be ranging;
but that I ate from the wisdom tree
is now beyond your changing.

You cannot change my knowing of
your pettiness and blunders,
no matter how you try to bluff
us men by death and thunders.

O God! How pitiful is this
decision of ejection!
How worthy of heaven’s governor!
How brilliant his perfection!

Your Garden of Eden, your Paradise,
I’ll never miss a minute;
that was no real paradise,
with a tree forbidden in it.

I ask full freedom as my right,
for freedom’s banner has risen!
The slightest limitation would turn
your Eden to hell and to prison.

* * * * *

MISERERE

Oh, forget those holy fables,
sanctimonious allegories –
try to answer those damned questions
without telling silly stories.

Why must just men bear the crosses,
stumbling wretchedly and bleeding,
while the bad man, high on horseback,
is victoriously succeeding?

Why so? Could the reason be that
God Almighty has restrictions?
Or that He Himself does mischief?
Ah, what sordid contradictions!

These are our eternal questions
till they stuff, when we lie pallid,
earth clods down our mouths by handfuls –
do you think such answer valid?

* * * * *

I am not lured by Eden’s fields,
the promised land in Paradise.
No fairer women there than those
on whom on earth I laid my eyes.

No angel with the finest wings
could substitute there for my wife.
Sitting on clouds and singing psalms
is not my dream of afterlife…”

HEINEHEINRICH HEINE
(13 December 1797 – 17 February 1856)

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“La Vie Ardente”, a poem by ÉMILE VERHAEREN (1855-1916) [PRECIOUS POETRY, #15th Edition]

Theo van Rysselberghe A Reading by Emile Verhaeren

Theo van Rysselberghe (1862-1926), “A Reading by Emile Verhaeren”

La vie ardente

Mon coeur, je l’ai rempli du beau tumulte humain:
Tout ce qui fut vivant et haletant sur terre,
Folle audace, volonté sourde, ardeur austère
Et la révolte d’hier et l’ordre de demain
N’ont point pour les juger refroidi ma pensée.
Sombres charbons, j’ai fait de vous un grand feu d’or,
N’exaltant que sa flamme et son volant essor

Qui mêlaient leur splendeur à la vie angoissée.
Et vous, haines, vertus, vices, rages, désirs,
je vous accueillis tous, avec tous vos contrastes,
Afin que fût plus long, plus complexe et plus vaste
Le merveilleux frisson qui me fit tressaillir.
Mon coeur à moi ne vit dûment que s’il s’efforce ;
L’humanité totale a besoin d’un tourment
Qui la travaille avec fureur, comme un ferment,
Pour élargir sa vie et soulever sa force.

ÉMILE VERHAEREN (1855-1916)

Read the whole poem (in French)

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Previously on Awestruck Wanderer:

Art Gallery: Diego Rivera (1886-1957), Mexican painter

Zapata de RiveraAgrarian Leader Zapata (1931)

“Emiliano Zapata, a champion of agrarian reform and a key protagonist in the Mexican Revolution, here leads a band of peasant rebels armed with makeshift weapons, including farming tools. With the bridle of a majestic white horse in his hand, Zapata stands triumphantly beside the dead body of a hacienda owner. Though Mexican and U.S. newspapers regularly vilified the revolutionary leader as a treacherous bandit, Rivera immortalized Zapata as a hero and glorified the victory of the Revolution in an image of violent but just vengeance.”- MOMA

Rivera - Liberation of the Peon

Liberation of the Peon (1931)

“In Liberation of the Peon, Rivera developed a harrowing narrative of corporal punishment. A laborer, beaten and left to die, is cut down from a post by sympathetic revolutionary soldiers, who tend to his broken body. Peonage—a system of indentured servitude established by Spanish colonizers, under which natives were forced to work the land—persisted in Mexico into the 20th century. The mural offers the injustice of earlier social and economic conditions as a rationale for the Mexican Revolution.” – MOMA

Rivera - Sugar Cane

Sugarcane (1931)

“Set on a sugar plantation, this portable mural introduces the tensions over labor, race, and economic inequity that simmered in Mexico after the Revolution. In the foreground, an Indian woman, with the traditional braids and white clothes of a peasant, cuts papayas from a tree while her children collect the fruit in reed baskets. Behind them, dark-skinned men with bowed heads gather bunches of sugar cane. A foreman, with distinctly lighter skin and hair, watches over them on horseback, and in the background a pale hacendado(wealthy landowner) languishes in a hammock. In this panel, Rivera adapted Marxist ideas about class struggle—an understanding of history born in industrialized Europe—to the context of Mexico, a primarily agrarian country until after World War II.” – MOMA

Flower Festival Feast of Santa Anita by Diego Rivera OSA117

Flower Festival: Feast of Santa Anita (1931)

“Rivera spent the tumultuous years of the Mexican Revolution (1910–20) painting and traveling abroad in Europe. Upon returning to his native country in 1921, he exalted indigenous Mexican people and traditions, making them a central subject of his work. As he later recalled, “My homecoming aroused an aesthetic rejoicing in me which is impossible to describe. Everywhere I saw a potential masterpiece—in the crowds, the markets, the festivals, the marching battalions, the workers in the workshops, the fields—in every shining face, every radiant child.” This painting, depicting a flower festival held on Good Friday in a town then called Santa Anita, was included in a solo exhibition of Rivera’s work at MoMA in 1931. Only the second artist (after Henri Matisse) to receive this honor, Rivera was, at the time, an international celebrity: the New York Sun hailed him as “the most talked about artist on this side of the Atlantic.” – MOMA

"The Arsenal" (1928)

The Arsenal (1928)

“Almost all of Rivera’s art told a story, many of which depicted Mexican society, the Mexican Revolution, or reflected his own personal social and political beliefs, and in The Arsenal is no different. The woman on the right side of this painting in Tina Modotti, an Italian photographer and revolutionary political activist, who is holding ammunition for Julio Antonio Mella, a founder of the internationalized Cuban communist party. Vittorio Vidale, an Italian-born Stalinist sympathizer, stands behind them in a black hat. The figures in this painting are an illustration of Rivera’s transferring his political beliefs onto canvas. He was an active member of the Mexican communist party, and was friends with Leon Trotsky, who lived with him for seven months. ”  – Wikipaintings

Frozen Assets (1931-32)

“In Frozen Assets, Rivera coupled his appreciation for New York’s distinctive vertical architecture with a potent critique of the city’s economic inequities. The panel’s upper register features a dramatic sequence of largely recognizable skyscrapers, most completed within a few years of Rivera’s arrival in New York. In the middle section, a steel-and-glass shed serves as a shelter for rows of sleeping men, pointing to the dispossessed labor that made such extraordinary growth possible during a period of economic turmoil. Below, a bank’s waiting room accommodates a guard, a clerk, and a trio of figures eager to inspect their mounting assets in the vault beyond. Rivera’s jarring vision of the city—in which the masses trudge to work, the homeless are warehoused, and the wealthy squirrel away their money—struck a chord in 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression.” – Wikipaintings

man-at-the-crossroads-rivera3

Man at the Crossroads (1933-34)

“Rivera stirred up controversy yet again when he was commissioned to create Man at the Crossroads for the Rockefeller Center in 1933. He was chosen to complete a mural on the first floor of the Rockefeller Center, with the theme of man at the crossroads, looking to the hope of a new and better future. The original work included pictures of women drinking alcohol, cells depicting sexually transmitted diseases, Leon Trotsky and a portrait of Lenin, which upset Rockefeller, who commissioned the work. He demanded that the face of Lenin be changed, but Rivera refused. Rockefeller immediately paid for the work, dismissed Rivera, and covered the mural. Rivera, who was determined to have his mural shown, re-created it at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and renamed the piece Man, Controller of the Universe. The original Man at the Crossroad in the Rockefeller Center was smashed and hauled away in 1934.” – Wikipaintings


Diego Rivera's The Uprising (1931)
The Uprising (1931)

“In The Uprising, a woman with a baby at her hip and a working man fend off an attack by a uniformed soldier. Behind them, a riotous crowd clashes with more soldiers, who force demonstrators to the ground. The location is unclear, though the figures’ skin tone implies that the scene is set in Mexico or another Latin American country. In the early 1930s, an era of widespread labor unrest, images of the violent repression of strikes would have resonated with both U.S. and Latin American audiences. The battle here stands as a potent symbol of universal class struggle.” – MOMA

Rivera - Aztec Warrior

Indian Warrior (1931)

“Of all the panels Rivera made for The Museum of Modern Art, Indian Warrior reaches back farthest into Mexican history, to the Spanish Conquest of the early 16th century. An Aztec warrior wearing the costume of a jaguar stabs an armored conquistador in the throat with a stone knife. The Spaniard’s steel blade—an emblem of European claims to superiority—lies broken nearby. Jaguar knights, members of an elite Aztec military order, were known for their fighting prowess; according to legend, their terrifying costumes enabled them to possess the power of the animal in battle. The panel’s jarring vision of righteous violence offered a Mesoamerican precedent for Mexico’s recent revolution, as well as its continuing struggles.” – MOMA