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 have mentioned in a previous post my love of Maggie Taylor’s work and when I came across “The Patient Gardener” I 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 friend Janai, whom I have mentioned here before, 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 buried in my sub-conscience. Pianist (and dear friend) Jeremy Reger also brings the requisite foggy lushness to Debussy’s accompaniment.
And as always I’ll add my caveat that the image above is only a representation of what it really looks like up close. So come in the gallery and check out this piece or any others in our collection!
Artist: Janai Brugger-Orman, Jeremy Reger