We Will Remember

Canada Remembers

Canada Remembers

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.
John McCrae

The Lady in Gold

Adele Bloch-Bauer

Adele Bloch-Bauer

“The lawyer was Randol Schoenberg, the grandson of a venerated Viennese composer who had fled the rise of Hitler. The return of this ominous heir was anything but welcome. The painting Schoenberg sought was a shimmering gold masterpiece, painted a century earlier, by the artistic heretic Gustav Klimt. It was a portrait of a Viennese society beauty, Adele Bloch-Bauer.” 
Anne-Marie O’Connor, The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Bloch-Bauer

“The Lady in Gold” is a brilliant testament to why I have chosen to read non-fiction. Anne-Marie O’Connor transported me to the glittering world of the Viennese Belle Époque, the beautiful era which began in the 1870’s and ended at the beginning of WWI. There I met Gustav Klimt and other brilliant artists, musicians and writers who embodied the Secession motto: “Der Zeit ihre Kunst. Der Kunst ihre Freiheit.” (“To every age its art. To every art its freedom.”) This was the world of Adele Bloch-Bauer, The Lady in Gold.

Anne-Marie O’Connor is a masterful storyteller. She weaves personal narratives against the backdrop of a fragile world of unimaginable wealth, political upheaval and a monarchy in transition. The greatest story centers on the 1907 painting by Gustav Klimt: Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. It was a three-year labor of love, commissioned by Adele’s husband, Ferdinand Block-Bauer. What was meant to adorn the wall of an elegant family home, was coveted by others who recognized the genius behind “The Lady in Gold”

The Lady in Gold holds the memorable stories of many who desired its beauty. It is a reminder of the vulnerability of life, the unforeseen circumstances that intrude into our seemingly impenetrable, carefully constructed worlds. The enigmatic Klimt and the beautiful Adele may have passed into history, but their lives are enshrined in a painting that endures.

Sigh No More, Ladies

William Shakespeare

He may have died 400 years ago, today on April 23, 1616, but his advice remains fresh and relevant.  One of my favourite passages is Sigh No More Ladies from “Much Ado About Nothing” which reminds us that our lives are not meant for melancholy, but for living with joyous abandonment.    William Shakespeare’s notion that blame falls to men’s nature as “deceivers ever” – well, I will leave that to you to decide.  In the meantime, here is my tribute to William Shakespeare:

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
          Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
          To one thing constant never.
               Then sigh not so,
               But let them go,
          And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
          Into ‘hey nonny, nonny’.

Sing no more ditties, sing no more,
          Of dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
          Since summer first was leavy.
               Then sigh not so,
               But let them go
          And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
          Into ‘hey nonny, nonny’.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)