October 27 2015

War and the Kiss

I just came across the Syrian artist Tammam Azzam's photoshopped image of Klimt's "The Kiss" on the face of a bombed-out building in his homeland.

It is the perfect illustration of the first poem by the great Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert, written when he was sixteen in the midst of World War II. 

The forests were on fire -
they however
wreathed their necks with their hands
like bouquets of roses

People ran to the shelters -
he said his wife had hair
in whose depths one could hide

Covered by one blanket
they whispered shameless words
the litany of those who love

When it got very bad
they leapt into each other's eyes
and shut them firmly

So firmly they did not feel the flames
when they came up to the eyelashes

To the end they were brave
To the end they were faithful
To the end they were similar
like two drops
struck at the edge of a face

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