He Portrays Himself on Wood
 
Please take a moment to observe the striking details of Albrecht Dürer's self-portrait of 1500. The poem you will hear me read is "He Portrays Himself on Wood," from the cycle "Lines Drawn from Dürer" in Blue-Eyed Grass: Poems of Germany. This cycle of fifteen narrative poems is in the middle section of the book, "Landscapes of the Masters," poems inspired by German art and sculpture. Dürer was a great pioneer in opening up the self as a valid subject for exploration in art.

The danger of descending into the self, for poet as well as artist, is that you might never come back out; to succeed, you must do it in such a way that the self you explore stands for all selves. I admire Dürer immensely. Not only did he risk criticism in opening the subject matter of art to include the self, but he also had a tremendous feeling for creatures (the hare, the baby owl, squirrels, crabs) for things (weeds, flowers), for other people, for science - in short, for the rich world outside the self. His vision is broad and timeless. Audio Reading.  





From Blue-Eyed Grass: Poems of Germany.
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