JB: I wrote a book called the Identity of Man. I never saw the cover of the English edition until the book reached me in print. And yet the artist had understood exactly what was in my mind, by putting on the cover a drawing of the brain and the Mona Lisa, one on top of the other


The Dejected Artist

For Rita Colin 30 December 1939


Nothing was aimless here: the days,
some day, would mend the broken pattern
of string and the cats cradle
of springs, the knife in the table.

There waited a morning to give meaning
to the scrawl of colour in sprawling
hands; it needed only patience.
And we had all the happy years to wait in.

Nothing is shifted yet. No bomb
Unwinds the springs, or wing
Cuts itself to pieces and the string.
War has overturned nothing,

but time; but waiting. Today,
tomorrow like an ultimatum stands;
yet we cannot hurry. The welter will never
make a work now: for tomorrow stands
and is nearer, is almost here,
to pull the knife, deliberately, through the canvas.

The Ascent of Jacob Bronowski

Copyright © 2000 by Stephen Moss. All rights reserved.