söndag 12 maj 2019

Grattis Edward!

Edward Lear 
12 maj 1812 - 29 januari 1888  

Edward var så mycket mer än nonsensverser och roliga teckningar — han var även konstnär och kompositör, som skrev läsvärda dagböcker när han var på resa, och hade en omfattande korrespondens, varav en del finns utgivet.
There was an Old Person of Rheims,
Who was troubled with horrible dreams;
So to keep him awake they fed him with cake,
Which amused that Old Person of Rheims.

Någon formell utbildning i konst hade han inte, men redan som 16-åring kunde han försörja sig på sin konst. Sedan dröjde det inte länge innan han anlitades av "the Zoological Society" för att teckna djur, vilket ledde till att kom att måla av papegojor i the Earl of Derbys menageri. En bok med en del av dessa papegojor "Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidæ, or Parrots, som han gav ut redan som 19-åring, finns att läsa hos the Internet Archive.

Han ansågs som den tides skickligaste illustratör av fåglar, och jämfördes ofta med John James Audubon. Men Edward såg dåligt och tvingades snart att överge den sortens illustrationer som var för påfrestande för hans ögon.
Inte nog med att han hade problem med ögonen, redan som barn visade det sig att han hade epilepsi, astma och bronkit. Sjukdomar han skämdes för och gjorde sitt bästa för att dölja. Visserligen var hans anfall stora, men började alltid med en inledande aura, vilket gjorde att han hann dra sig undan, för att slippa uppståndelsen som ett anfall alltid innebär bland de närvarande. 

The pigs in this part of Corsica, in order to prevent them 
from straying in garden or vineyard, furnished with an 
extraordinary apparatus of two long pieces of wood  fastened 
above and below the head, and having the appearance of 
huge horns; at a distance they look like vast grasshoppers.

Trots sina hälsoproblem var han ofta på resande fot, i sin resedagbok "Journal of a landscape painter in Corsica" skriver han 1870, på sin födelsedag:
"May 12, 5 A.M - The morning is delightfully fine and the air exquisite; nor, among other good things, should an excellent tumbler of coffee be forgotten, such as one would hardly have expected to find on the top of a mountain in remote Corsica; here, as elsewhere, the good people exhibit great anxiety to compensate for what they know to be their deficiencies." 

Det finns så mycket att läsa om denne rolige och vänlige man, gör det! Dessutom kom det ut en biografi om honom förra året "Mr Lear A Life and Nonsense", av Jenny Uglow — den finns både hos Adlibris och Bokus, och kan du tåla dig ett tag så kommer den så småningom häftad.

View near Conoor, Nilcheris, India Dated 1875

Så här skrev han om hur det kändes att få epileptiska anfall.

Miss Maniac
Around my brain there is a chain, and o'er my fevered soul 
A darkness like that solemn gloom which once through Egypt stole; 
Sometimes I feel, but know not why, a fire within me burn, 
And visions fierce and terrible, pursue where'er I turn; 
Then I forget that earth is earth, and that myself am life, 
And nature seems to die away in darkness, hell and strife. 
But when my phrenzied fit is o'er, a dreary hour comes on, — 
A consciousness of unknown things, — of reason overthrown. 
Cold runs my blood from vein to vein — all vacant is mine eye, 
And in my ears a sound of death, and dread eternity! 
Then one by one my thoughts return, and from my grated cell 
I gaze upon the mountain fir, the steep and woody dell; 
And as I listen to the stream that dashes far below, 
I pine for freedom as a joy I never more can know. 
Beyond those far blue hills, I feel, was once my home of bliss, 
And there my father's cottage stood, — a roof more blest than this. 
Ah! now I think I see them come, the forms I used to love, 
And hear the evening shepherd bell sound sweetly through our grove. — 
But they are gone! — all past away — they only flash like rays 
Of morning o'er my memory — my young — my happy days! — 
They said that I was lovely then — and wreathed with flowers my brow, 
Oh! would my cheek had been as pale — my eye as dim as now! — 
For love with all its pleasures came, but ah! its guilt came too, 
And peace — fair twin to innocence, no more my bosom knew! 
Oh — thou who falsely — darkly lured my frail fond heart astray, 
Then left me like a broken flower, alone to waste away, 
Where art thou now? doth ever thought, thy dark hour rush across, 
Of me, — forsaken — fallen me, — to goad thee with remorse? — 
Or hast thou in the stream of life, 'mid scenes and forms more sweet, 
Forgot these tears that madd'ning mourn, my guilt and thy deceit? — 
Go — lull more hearts with hopes of bliss, undreaming of a snare, 
Till they awake to shame and feel — the pangs such bliss must bear. 
Deceive! Deceive! — I loved thee once, therefore I will not curse; — 
But if my soul were bared to thee — Hell could not wish thee worse! — 
Yet, if a heart, e'en hard as thine, could feel but half the pain 
Which woman's wounded bosom feels — 'twould ne'er deceive again! — 
Oh! when the bubble pleasure burst, how slowly time rolled by, — 
My thoughts were grief — my looks were shame, — my every breath a sigh! — 
Still — still I feel the scoffs of those who, with a cruel scorn, 
Made doubly sad the memory of hours for ever gone, — 
And still I hear my father's voice — as with a dreadful wrath 
He cursed me with a bitter curse, and friendless drove me forth. 
It was a cold and cheerless eve — and through the dark'ning sky 
The wind swept past in hurried gusts, and shook the trees on high; — 
My child was in my arms — my own — how quietly it slept! 
I longed for morn yet feared it, and I wandered on and wept, 
Till, worn with sorrow and fatigue, careless I sate me down, 
And felt how doubly keen it is to mourn — and mourn alone! 
Cold — cold we were — oh never since such chilling grief has press'd 
Upon my heart whose strings seemed burst — and frozen in my breast; 
And o'er my soul, like demon forms, dark recollections came, 
My sorrows and my sins and all my pleasures bought with shame, — 
Till through my brain they racked like fire, and every vein waxed hot, 
And in confused despair, awhile e'en sorrow seemed forgot: — 
Strange feelings, such as none but maniacs ever know or feel, 
Rushed indistinctly on my mind, and reason seemed to reel, 
Till, lost in unknown agony, I laughed as if in mirth, 
Or shudd'ring — welcomed back the gloom of hell begun on earth: 
Then madness first his scorching hand held o'er my withered brain, — 
Ah — ha! — it was a deadly touch — but it never cooled again! —

4 kommentarer:

  1. Vilken fullständigt fascinerande och förtjusande person!

  2. Oj - låter intressant! Jag får nog ta mig en tur till biblioteket. Världen är full av spännande och lite annorlunda personligheter.

    1. Inkan,
      Kanske du, liksom jag, helst läser "riktiga" böcker, men kan du hålla till godo med att läsa på skärmen så finns många av hans böcker hos Project Gutenberg, på Internet Archive och Libri Vox. För läsvärd är han i allra högsta grad.