Edvard Munch The sick child
Edvard Munch 'The sick child'

Edvard Munch: 'The Sick Child'

Jeremy Hooker

'Disease, insanity and death were the angels
which attended my cradle.' - Edvard Munch

North is a dark green sea;
the boy shaking on the bed
was born to it – he is wrack

opening and shutting in the tide;
a ribbed shell dragged down,
which waves knock
and the brine swills;

a mariner who will not drown.

Angels attend him
far into the cold:

a women the sea has broken on,
bowing her down;
a girl with red hair, face
fragile as a moon
that floats out on the dark.

Edvard Munch The sick child litho
Edvard Munch 'The sick child' litho

Jeremy Hooker, a former Senior Lecturer in English at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and creative-writing fellow at Winchester School of Art, 1981- 3, is now a free-lance writer and lecturer. His selected poems. A View from the Source, was published in 1982, and his critical writings include studies of David ]ones and John Cowper Powys, and a book of essays, Poetry of Place. He collaborated with Norman Ackroyd on ltchen Water, a book of poems and etchings, published by Winchester School of Art Press in 1982.
Note: The dark green in the painting, together with the wornan's bowed figure, gave me a powerful sense of pressure downwards, of physical and emotional gravity. Against this sombre, oppressive force the face of  the sick child was. in tone and weight, the only light - a death-light, especially in the moon of the skull. but also a light endowed with love and pity. Looking closely at the painting, and knowing something of Munch's biography, I saw him in it. Not his personal psychology alone, but the pain and darkness of the North, which he inhabited and expressed. This appeared to me in the
metaphor of a dark green sea, with Munch as one who was barn to it, but who was also its master. My title also refers to Munch as the sick child, the feverish boy living on in the man, who painted his dead sister and his dead mother. In painting them. he had both. in a sense, restored them to life, and revealed the North to which they all belonged. It is a personal, yet common state, where love and death are inextricably kin. [ wrote not to criticize Edvard Munch. but to feel with him. and I wanted to create, in words, a kind of equivalent to what I believe he had lived, and expressed in the painting.

Edvard Munch Tussen de klok en het bed
Edvard Munch 'Tussen de klok en het bed'