Monday, 3 December 2012


“When words leave off, music begins.” – Heinrich Heine

Man Ray, (born Philadelphia, PA, 25 Aug 1890; died Paris, 18 Nov 1976) was an American photographer and painter. He was brought up in New York, and he adopted the pseudonym Man Ray as early as 1909. He was one of the leading spirits of Dada and Surrealism, and the only American artist to play a prominent role in the launching of those two influential movements. Throughout the 1910s he was involved with avant-garde activities that prefigured the Dada movement. After attending drawing classes supervised by Robert Henri and George Bellows at the Francisco Ferrer Social Center, or Modern School, he lived for a time in the art colony of Ridgefield, NJ, where he designed, illustrated and produced several small press pamphlets, such as the Ridgefield Gazook, published in 1915, and A Book of Diverse Writings.

Magpie Tales has chosen a photograph of his for a prompt this week. It is his “Object to be Destroyed” of 1923. The work, that was destroyed in 1957, consisted of a metronome with a photograph of an eye attached to its swinging arm. It was remade in multiple copies in later years, and renamed “Indestructible Object”. It is considered to be a “readymade”, following in the relatively new tradition established by Marcel Duchamp of employing ordinary manufactured objects that usually were modified very little, if at all, in works of art.

I have used poetic licence (ahem!) to reimagine this image. Here is what I came up with in response to the prompt:


How easy it is for you to sing!
Playing the lyre like an angel;
Skipping through trills – rejoicing,
All happy intervals, major scales…

Yet these black notes, how mournful on the page,
What agony they hide, what pain, what effort –
They’re black crows, portents of death
Sitting, as they do, on five stretched wires.

Each note’s a wound made with sharp knife,
And you run through them without concern,
Lightly skipping up the arpeggios,
Descending effortlessly the glissandos.

As the relentless metronome soul-lessly marks time
You pause not to think for a moment
Of the poor composer’s torment
And the shrill cries of his tortured soul.


  1. The composer's passion winding up on a metronome - a fine apercu.
    I think you might provide the answer to this week's quiz. Give it a try.

  2. yes, the gifted can often forget the gifter...

  3. Ggreat images in the second stanza. :)

  4. Notes making wounds like a knife...I love that...