Saturday, May 30, 2009

Altered Book: Illustrated Poems

Eileen from the ABEurope Group started the book 'Illustrated Poems' for the current Round Robin. Before it arrived I was on the lookout for English poems that I liked. But there was one that I could not get out of my head.
I did not want to use it because it is such a sad poem, even though it is so powerful and written from the heart. It is the poem called: I Am, written by John Clare (1793 - 1864) while being admitted to Northampton Asylum. Certainly not the best place to write happy or light hearted poetry!
In the end I could not find another poem that I would love to use. Despite his despair, the last three lines are probably appealing to everyone at certain moments in life: safe and without any troubles.
I wrote out the poem on a harmonica folded paper and glued it to one page. On the other page I tried to transfer a digital collage. Despite using a transparancy, the image did not transfer well and was not recognisable.
So I gessoed over it, leaving the title of the poem uncovered, and added a transparancy with the collage over it using eyelets. It does not photograph very well because of the reflection of the plastic.

I Am

I am: yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost;
And yet I am - I live with shadows tost

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;
And e'en the dearest--that I loved the best--
Are strange--nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil'd or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below--above the vaulted sky.

John Clare

On YouTube you will find the poem being used with the software 'Crazy Talk' which makes it possible to move parts of a picture to make them 'talk'.