Friday, April 8, 2011

A Little Spring Gardening


One of the perks of working at the John Cleary Gallery is that I have free reign to explore drawer after drawer of the gallery’s collection.  I came across Maggie Taylor’s “The Patient Gardener” recently and was reminded of a song from Claude Debussy’s Proses Lyriques entitled “De fleurs” (The Flowers).


Maggie Taylor: The Patient Gardener


Debussy’s lyrics, which he wrote himself, are as follows.  (Translation by Faith J. Cormier via The Lied, Art Song, and choral Texts Page)

In the desolate green boredom of pain's hothouse, flowers surround my heart with their nasty stems. When will the dear hands return to delicately untangle them from round my head? The tall purple Iris cruelly violated your eyes by seeming to reflect them. They were the pools of reverie into which my dreams softly dove, absorbed by their colour. And the lilies, white jets of water with perfumed pistils, have lost their white grace and are but poor invalids who do not know the sun. Sun! Friend of evil flowers, dream-killer, illusion-killer, holy bread of miserable souls! Come! Come! Saving hands! Smash the windows of lies, smash the windows of evil spells, my soul is dying from too much sun! Mirages! Joy will never flower again in my eyes and my hands are tired of praying, my eyes tired of crying! In an eternal crazed noise, the black petals of boredom drip constantly on my head in pain's green hothouse!

But really… why reference a Debussy song and post the poetry without also putting up a stunning performance?  My dear friend Janai (who is currently a young artist under Placido Domingo at the Los Angeles Opera) sang the set on her master’s recital at the University of Michigan a couple of years ago and her performance of this song in particular has managed to stay seared into my sub-conscience.  Pianist and friend Jeremy Reger (coach at the Minnesota Opera) also brings the requisite foggy lushness to Debussy’s accompaniment.

So stop in some time to check out Maggie’s or any other of our fine photographer’s work!


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