Saturday, December 17, 2005
Verhaeren and Ensor
Thanks to Eugene for his comment on the poem by Émile Verhaeren which I posted earlier in the week. It's nice to get some comment and feedback on the poems. I think Eugene is right: 'La Recherche' by Émile Verhaeren does use symbols of violence. It is also a long poem: the first part was posted a week ago and there is still more to come next week. The poem seems to be both conscious of the lofty aims of science but at the same time fearful of its generalising nature that tries to reduce things to general principles (for example, facts marching in step).
Verharen was a Belgian writer born in 1855 who was a friend and admirer of the Belgian painter James Ensor. A superficial look at the work of the two suggests a common interest in the symbolism of death and a taste for the macabre. The wikipedia article on Ensor makes reference to the violent and lurid content of his paintings and a brief tour of his work reveals that he had a naive and primitive style. A reaction perhaps to a late 19th century world that was becoming increasingly urbanised, mechanised and militarised. This urbanisation is referred to in the title of the book from which Verhaeren's poem 'La Recherche is taken: 'Les Villes Tentaculaires' (Tentacular Towns).