Kantate (The Ballad of Maria Lassnig, 1992) by Austrian artist Maria Lassnig is the story of her life in 14 verses. A witty and wise commentary on the pains of living. See translated lyrics bellow:
This whole wide world is full of growing grasses
This whole wide world is full of flowers that grow.
And now I am sitting here, – with dreams of yester-year
I’m thinking of the times of long ago.
A babe-in-arms, I was and hardly born
a great wet tear came splashing on my head.
It was my mother dear, – lying lonely and forlorn
she rocked and hugged me, lonesome in her bed.
My early childhood was a real life-drama,
the pots and pans went flying through the air.
The small child screamed aloud: “Stay alive, dear Mamma!”
The poor child suffered from her parents’ war.
I realized from the start, married-life is not made of sugar
a drop of bitterness fell upon my heart.
The good nuns taught me how to read and write
the other children pulled my hair and smiled
I was so slow to learn — and did not like to fight
because I was such a goody-goody child.
The Gods of Fortune gave me no great Beauty.
But one great talent was bestowed on me.
I drew and painted here, – pictures of people clear
like brother Dürer, Rembrandt, Da Vinci.
My darling mother thought this was not proper:
I should be married with a family.
I threw my arms around her feet, fell to the ground:
A man, a child is not my destiny !
The Art Academy was my destination,
I painted better far than any man.
I believe in Art, in Life — and all Creation
That Art should make a better World for Man.
The God of Love just did not like my features
though many suitors clamoured for my hand.
Yet they betrayed me all, – those handsome creatures
I packed my bags and left my native land.
Oh Paris, Home of Arts and velvet drapings,
but Love and Art for me was just a sham
I could try Op-Art, Pop-Art or Tachism
but the Art Mafia always called the game.
America, oh land of hope and glory
the land is mighty and her women strong.
They fight for all their rights, – don’t say they’re sorry
The Macho Men are stung when they do wrong.
The Lady Minister of the Art Department
was wise and friendly , called me home again.
A woman’s aim is high, – she should reach for the sky
a good professor can start her pupils’ fame.
I’ve scrambled up the peaks and reached the summit
my whole long life just lies beneath my feet.
But I’m still searching for — the stone of wisdom
Life’s made me cautious, Life still calls the beat.
I’m growing older and my legs seem longer
but now I love the world with all my might.
My feelings poor and soft, my face is stronger,
my television helps me through the night.
I just don’t feel my life as nearly ended
I still go skiing, ride my motor bike.
And each new day that breaks — brings new dimensions
so Art has kept me young in ways I like.
I know it’s Art so dear, that keeps me young and clear
Art made me thirsty, now fulfilment’s near.
A song by Giulia y los Tellarini
A beautiful poem by Hugo Williams, his words ring true
I phone from time to time, to see if she’s
Changed the music on her answerphone.
‘Tell me in two words,’ goes the recording,
‘what you were going to tell in a thousand.’
I peer into that thought, like peering out
To sea at night, hearing the sound of waves
Breaking on rocks, knowing she is there,
Listening, waiting for me to speak.
Once in a while she’ll pick up the phone
And her voice sings to me out of the past.
The hair on the back of my neck stands up
As I catch her smell for a second.
A Song of Despair
By Pablo Neruda
The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.
Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!
Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.
In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
From you the wings of the song birds rose