The Fishermen (after Verhaeren) 2006 paper, pastel 297×210

Emile Verhaeren: "The river stagnates, pestilent

With carrion by the current sent

This way and that--and yonder lies

The moon, just like a woman dead,

That they have smothered overhead,

Deep in the skies."

On the bank:

"The hamlets and their wretched huts

Are numb and drowsy, and all round

The willows too, and walnut trees,

'Gainst which the Easterly fierce breeze

Has waged its feud."

From the distant towers one can hear bells:

"So hard and harsh the midnights chime.

The midnights harsh of autumn time,

The weary midnights' bell."

On the background of this gloomy landscape, fishermen do their work in the mist on the middle of the river, fishing their future sorrows and pains. It is important that they do not talk to each other, though "If but in this their night they hailed each other and brothers' voices might console a brother!" But they "hail each other not--

Nor help in their fraternal lot;

Doing but that which must be done.

Each fishes for himself alone.


And this one gathers in his net,

Drawing it tighter yet,

His freight of petty misery;

And that one drags up recklessly

Diseases from their slimy bed;

While others still their meshes spread

Out to the sorrows that drift by

Threateningly nigh;

And the last hauls aboard with force

The wreckage dark of his remorse."...