EJN #3: Remembrance: Die Ordnung der Engel

Edward G. Nilges, “EJN Remembrance”, Conte on paper, 30 x 60 cm.

When I do Conte drawings I always resolve on Control and a Classical serenity, but to find the form I always wind up with a German and romantic image.

So I had to reach down in the Hierarchy for the dark arch angel. The source photo was probably taken right after training at Camp Shelby, and Edward had not seen Europe. The few photos in Europe are posed group officer photos and one of my uncle in front of a German Panzer, perhaps his unit took it out.

Therefore he is my Mantuan:

O anima cortese mantoana,
di cui la fama ancor nel mondo dura,
e durerà quanto ‘l mondo lontana,

L’amico mio, e non de la ventura,
ne la diserta piaggia è impedito
sì nel cammin, che vòlt’ è per paura;

Dante, Inferno

Oh Mantuan: courteous spirit,
Famous in the world that is
And famous in the world to come,
My friend who is no friend to Fortune
My love, who is not loved by Fate,
Is so hindered on the journey of his life
That in terror he has turned back,
And from what I know in Heaven,
I fear he may have lost the true way.

[My version of the translation]

“No poetry after Auschwitz”. No light: but darkness visible (which is a contradiction).

Anselm Kiefer, “Die Ordnung der Engel (The Hierarchy of Angels)”, 1985..1987


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