Monday, 10 September 2012


“The object in modern painting must become the main character and overthrow the subject. If, in turn, the human form becomes an object, it can considerably liberate possibilities for the modern artist.” – Fernand Léger

Magpie Tales on her creative meme page this week has fuelled participants’ imagination with a 1921 painting by cubist, Fernand Léger, called “Breakfast”. I must say that this image left rather uninspired until I turned it on its side. I then saw a sailor reaching for a spyglass, a microbiologist about to use a microscope, an astronomer gazing at the stars, a factory worker twiddling dials and machinery, but still failed to see any bacon and eggs or cups of tea!

I first learnt of this artist when I was in my seventh year of school, when I copied his canvas “The City”, of 1919. I was pleased with myself as I thought I did a very good job and remember thinking to myself in all the naiveté of my 13 years: “Well there’s nothing to this cubism thing…” I followed up by constructing my own “cubist” paintings, but my interest soon waned as I discovered the pre-Raphaelites, who appealed more to my adolescent stirrings of emotional, sexual and intellectual awakening.

I must say, however, that the ultimate inspiration for the poem was not the process that led to my inspiration (reflected in the title), but rather the fragmentary nature of the composition, the “exploded” forms and the September 11 anniversary that is commemorated today. The text in italics is from the King James Bible, Matthew 7:7-8

Seek, and Ye Shall Find

Ask, and it shall be given you;
But who has time or inclination to ask, now?
When seizing, capturing and snatching
Is the accepted form of taking what could be freely given…

Seek, and ye shall find;
But who has time to look for hidden truths, now?
When lies, falsehood and untruths
Can easily be invented and be passed off as true.

Knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
But who bothers knocking on closed doors, now?
When one can knock them down, rush in and violate,
Make public the private and break open what could easily be revealed?

For every one that asketh receiveth;
Enmity instead of friendship:
If violence is used instead of gentleness.

And he that seeketh findeth;
Coals instead of diamonds:
If cruelty replaces kindness.

And to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Pandora’s box, full of woes, opened:
And not even hope will be lingering in its depths…


  1. Very profound Nicholas and so much truth there.

    And I do see the microbiologist.

    Anna :o]

  2. I also read that Leger quote during my research for the Mag ... an interesting piece of background, an explanation for his style. Bringing 9-11 into your poem is a masterful touch.

  3. How clever of you to turn it on its side.

    Nice Magpie

  4. you are a wise one Nicholas
    both in knowing that to turn a painting sideways or upside down is more likely to reveal its truth

    and also for the magnificent Ask Seek Knock prose

  5. Mmmmh... do you blog elsewhere (thinking of the microbiologist :o])?

    Anna :o]

  6. You turned it on its side so very nicely...I like the biblical twist...