It’s a very striking painting of a lady, full of determination, in a black-green gown, turning away from the viewer, but only just, into a future with her husband, the painter Claude Monet. This is certainly not a happy painting. There is little hope in it. The foreboding sense of gloom is highlighted (or, rather, further darkened) by the sheer, enormous size of the image. It is on view at the Kunsthalle in Bremen, where I quite regulalry go to see it. I’ve written an ekphrastic poem about it, a short Monet-Gedicht, as it were. This is how I feel Monet is looking at Camille:
Das Weiß deines Blicks ist nicht echt, und die Farbe
der Haut deiner Hand, die du keinem reichst,
und die Farbe der Haut deines Halses sind auch nicht echt.
Nur so selten zeigst du dein Gesicht.
Du bist nur ein Kleid, das sich mir nicht stellt,
du bist eine Haltung, die mir nicht gefällt.
There is a second stanza which presents Camille’s response to these rather outrageous assumptions. Tom Nolan has translated the poem, and in his English version, Camille’s response begins with the simple statement: “So little of my face is in this picture.” Original and translation have just come out with OSIRIS, a very fine international poetry journal published by Andrea and Robert Moorhead in Massachusetts (issue no. 75). There isn’t a website, but OSIRIS has a facebook page. You can also e-mail the editors at osirispoetry at gmail dot com. The current issue also includes poems by Robert Giroux, Günter Kunert, and many others, and like every issue it has been very beautifully illustrated by the editors.