Monday, January 8, 2018

Max Jacob

Max Jacob (1876—1944) is a French poet, artist and critic of Jewish background. He befriended Pablo Picasso in the summer of 1901, when the painter first arrived in Paris; he helped him learn French, and eventually the two roomed together in the Montmartre district.

In 1909 he experienced a vision of Christ and became a Catholic Christian. In 1921 Picasso represents Jacob as a monk in his painting, Three Musicians, because he had decided to enter a monastery.

He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944. Jacob’s brother and sister were both gassed at Auschwitz, whereas Jacob died in an infirmary, apparently from bronchial pneumonia.

The following is from The Selected Poems of Max Jacob, translated by William Kulik.


----------The body cold and stiff in the morgue of the
world who will give its life back so it may leave?
----------The morgue mountain is on my body who will
free its life so it may leave?
----------Eyes advance like a cloud of bees the eyes of
Argus or the lamb of the Apocalypse.
----------The cloud has thawed my body’s morgue. A
Place, understand me, for the sweet coming of the Lord.
----------Finally, the body’s little more than a faint out-
line the eyes of the cloud gone too.
----------What’s left barely the size of a steak: a blood-
stain, some bits of marble in memory of a lost name.

This post was suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis. His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.