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Chance meeting with an inventor


Swedish runes

For Hans Weil, artist and inventor
Reflections on a chance meeting in Malmo, Sweden, 1997

Speech rinsed itself in the blue halls of Sweden
Cerulean shadows bloomed
From the frozen river
Like algae shadow covered
The cobbles of Gamla Stan,
Covered the lids of closing eyes
Which rested in the winter
Like stones of forgotten light
Bicycles rolled sullenly
In the distance of their silver limbs
Mittens braced hands which disappeared
Into their dark fingered depths
A bridge of frozen sounds
Pulsed in the limping sky
The sun's dim light gazed in an echo of its splendour
Upon the face of a fading wall
All is hidden now behind the pane of seven years of glass
Dissolving slowly in the softened blaze
Of the poem's quiet lens
Through the drift a figure walks upon the silent air
Shadows climb and sing
Within the stones of the old cathedral
Within the darkness floats the crypt
Sweden's tomb of forgotten Kings
The battle plain for blades of night and the shafts of wintry morning
The winds of Lund swirl upon the cobblestones
The sky arches its bow of gentle rain
The frozen lips of myth
Part in the approaching gloom
To whisper in the ear of shadow
Stolen from the figure walking through the drift
The shelter is as cold as ice
And I am lost in the maze of streets
Head bared and fearful in a town of hidden songs
Stumbling in the cloak of darkness
The river stares from its soft fluorescent mirror
A winding road of tinted glass
Obscured in the fuming ether
Breath is an audible scale of blue steam rising
And fingers search in the darkness for a sign of themselves
Found, lost
Black plastic ripples in the wind
Like the waves of the cindered sea
The bed of the distant mares
Wed to the horse of the streaming deep
The hour has not been sung when the blazing mares will rise
For now it is the well of the stallion's drifting lies
Which hold in the palm of Malmo
The secrets of illusion,
The anonymous poet of holographic truth
For whom language is and was and will be
'The anonymous masterpiece',
Created by all and owned by none
The feather of his step
Walks into me
A child of wonder peeling glints
Of bird-like laughter
Ruffling through the books of shelves
And pressing a promise of youth's return
Which sailed through shadows away ...
I have found the street, and burn with a fever of silver keys
The palace of insoluble night
Fades in the warm interior
The corridors prove safe passage
From the mysteries of the well
Alone the lens softly burns
And steps back into the dark
Through the drift the figure steps
Blinded in the mist
Who are you?


The steps are still
A quiet voice from the inner world
Or from the drifting mist, attempts to explain:

'Firstly Sir, would you please help me across the road? I cannot see.'
Hans Weil, the inventor of the hologram,
which he registered to the patent office in 1934,
takes my arm. We walk across the road,
and then another, along the frozen river,
with the sun gazing down
in a pale gold echo of its splendour,
grazing Malmo's walls with a surfeit of riches lowering
into the grave of fading day.
We walk four or five blocks; Hans Weil probes
the mystery of my arm
and raises the question
of my occupation: 'Artist', I reply. 'Ah ...'
The inventor is light with laughter, giddy as a bird,
as we come to his apartment. Dim, and full of dust
coating the sheaves of books,
the interior breathes the air
of the final ark of philosophy
an island in the mist of memory.
We have tea and Hans shows me an invention
which magnifies letters for his failing eyes,
so that still he may read,
so that still the winds may turn
the bronze art coins of his perception.
Cobweb-like sculptures dream
upon some shelves, poetry is the wing
of his bird-like speech. And his disappointment
as he must descend
to the ground of my feeble understanding.
'Come back to visit, make sure you do.'
A promise broken.
This poem a token
For a king
And his alchemy of sorrow
Resting now in Sweden's
Blue, cerulean halls ... 

James WallerJames Waller is a painter, poet and sculptor based in Melbourne. 

Topic tags: new australian poems, Swedish runes, James Waller



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Existing comments

Thank you James! This is so great! I am tearful as an old and close friend of Hans Weil I am so happy to read your lovely poem. A poem of my hometown Malmö, and Lund with the cathedral. AND HANS, my beloved friend. I see him in your tender and beautiful words. Your meeting, so typical for Hans, open for new people, eager to get new acquaintances. I am so glad I found your wonderful poem. I am sure he appreciated your meeting. Hans died the year after you met him, in the age of 96. In 2014 we made an exhibition of Hans sculptures in Germany, Museum Goch. Thank you again for posting this poem. /Leif

Leif Persson | 14 March 2016  

Here is a link to my Facebook where I have pictures from the exhibition in Goch of the sculptures of Hans Weil. Most of these sculptures Hans made in Paris around 1928/1930. http://on.fb.me/1LkTqz3

Leif Persson | 14 March 2016  

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