Saturday, January 26, 2013

You'll be missing home

René Magritte titled this painting, completed in Carcassonne in 1940,  "Le mal du pays". The standard English translation is "Homesickness."
    There has been no end of discussion of what the artist intended. I applaud Magritte's own response to those who plied him for explanations of his paintings. 
He said, "People who look for symbolic meanings fail to grasp the inherent mystery of the image. No doubt they sense this mystery, but they wish to get rid of it." I feel the same way when people ask me to explain my poems.
     Magritte's statement on what is going on in "Le mal du pays" is worth quoting.“Have you never seen a man leaning on the edge of a bridge, looking at the water, with a lion behind him? Well, now, thanks to this painting, you have.”
    What seizes me in this image is not its strangeness but its absolute familiarity. I have been on that bridge in my dreams, sometimes as the winged figure, sometimes as the lion, or as both. I feel I was at a place like this before I agreed to come into the world, this time. Feeling what it will be like to be down there, yearning for the home of my spirit.
    As I write these words, I hear again the high, keening voices in the procession of the birth-funeral that I walked before I came into my present body, and I am filled again with yearning for those I love on another plane of being.
    My personal title for this memory-dream of the winged spirit and the lion on the bridge above the world is, "You'll be missing home."


valerie said...

i have been in on that bridge(or one like it) with my daughter in reality. A old woman was sitting on a folding chair with a basket of kittens she was giving away.
In a dream of a week ago my daughter was sprouting feathers and becoming a beautiful blue bird.
My daughter recently moved out of state and tells me often how homesick she this is very familiar for me.

Anonymous said...

i was here a few days ago..although rather than a bridge it was a flat rooftop..i caught sight of my shadow and felt deeply alone in that moment..there was a yearning. that night i dreamed of a lion..a big beautiful face calmly watching me, he had steps that spread up from his nose and away into the distance up over his head, woke feeling warmly touched by his visit. i was in a far off land at the time.