Friday, April 26, 2019

Egon Schiele's Wife

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When WWI ended on November 11, 1918, Edith was sixteen years old and in high school. She was twelve when the war began. Yet, her writings and interviews do not focus on war (except for the death of her friend's brother) or the anguish people were experiencing during this time. She told one interviewer that she needed to leave politics behind her. Presumably war, as well. Anguish she dealt with in the therapy session or the analytic frame.
Nor does she mention the outbreak of the Spanish flu which killed 50 million people, including Egon and Edith Schiele. One wonders if Edith Buxbaum wrote about this period of her life in the diaries she kept and which were unfortunately discarded by well-meaning people after her death. Her teenage years were filled with psychoanalysis and study groups, where even at age fourteen she was reading Freud.  Here, there was talk of war and politics.
A few years ago, I went to Vienna to meet Edith's step- grandson, Gusti, I also found Vienna Muses; and at the Leopold Museum and the Albertina, I "met" Egon Schiele and Edith Harms Schiele. Edith Buxbaum did not meet them but she frequented these museums. I invite you to listen to American poet, Carol Frost, read her poem, Egon Schiele's Wifeor you may read it below:
Egon Schiele's Wife
More since her illness he tried to think of her not purely as a wife --

    as someone who finds herself trying to please, to
    be of his mind.
                               The spread legs and bunched up slip,
                               the reddened labia, and an almost compulsive
    they were his wishes.

                                                   As for her --
sprawled like a goose sideways down the wind whenever he drew
             her sex --
what was enfevered began slowly to fade
and she was lost to him (you know how that feels?).

He drew her face, then gave her pen and paper
so that she might leave behind for him
love's avowals. In the weirdly devastated eyes
of the earlier self-portraits, where aloneness exaggerates everything,

he hadn't yet mourned yet almost seemed to know. . . .
                               Ah, she'd have gladly lingered
                               in that yellow and ocher room that willed and
                                              willed and willed her,
for just a bit longer,
                                              but found Death determined
and went with him, whose whispered secrets and stale fragrance
mingled with decay excited her. The artist stepped to the morning

window and looked at the quieted-down square. -- A clearer
feeling now: the nude heart in ecclesiastical colors
above the city's grayness. Their erotic life.
And something more, exhaustion,
like halos in an unexpected gust of wind surrounding a tree's last
Carol FrostLove and Scorn: New and Selected Poems

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