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Merzbarn Reflections

Schwitter’s settled here and started the Merz barn relief. He died before he could complete it in 1948.

“Whether we have chosen chisel, pen or brush,
We are but critics, or but half create,
Timid, entangled, empty and abashed,
Lacking the countenance of our friends.”

–WB Yeats, Ego Dominus Tuus, 1918 book Per Amica Silentia Lunae

“In the arts we find meaning to have dimensions that the methods of reasoning employed in science have yet to

–Susanne Katherina Langer, 1957.

 A meditation on Cylinders Estate, Elterwater following a visit, Saturday 26th February, 2011.

Collating accidental scrap of everyday life,

making compositions of beauty,

he set his chisel to the hardest stone

as a garden was seeded,

upon a former gunpowder works.

He began his solitary work,

in the dark of a lake land barn.


Light shines ethereally through

tall thin, bare late winter trees;

mystical glow after rain-clouds,

rolling off the tarn.



sparse contrasts of silvery wood.

There are cloud shadows over landscape:

die romantische Stimmungslandschaft.

Solitary snowdrops on the hill.


That pervasive light.

shy and elusive is

a Zeno paradox to me.

No high speed shutter can frame it.

I tried gauging its trajectory.

Tangible where dark-defined is hopeful

in muted radiance.



Harry Matthews

un poète et peintre

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