fbpx

With Dream-Awakened Eyes

Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at gershonhepner@gmail.com.

January 18, 2023
Charlotte Salomon – Self Portrait

Charlotte’s dream-awakened eyes

saw beauty all around her,

the sea, the hills, the sun-drenched skies,

her sanity far sounder

than that of madmen whom she’d run

away from, fleeing death,

as with her brush and paint she won

a refuge for her breath.

All this emerges when we scan

the opus that she called

her life, in which she proved you can

avoid becoming salt

when looking back, if you recall

the joys and not the pains,

the loveliness before the fall

that after death remains.

 

And yet, her last name links her to

the king who, pondering beauty,

found it, like rubies, of less value

than doing divine duty:

conducting ourselves with great love

towards our race, mankind,

including those, like God above,

who’re out of sight—-not mind.

 

Charlotte Salomon fled Germany after Kristallnacht and lived in Villefranche-sur-Mer in the south of France until 1943 when she was murdered in Auschwitz, recalling her life in Berlin.  She painted some 1,300 gouaches and selected 780, illustrated by texts that she herself wrote to form “a great opera of the mind and eye,” as Norman Rosenthal puts it. In “A Private World to Ward Off the Nazi Horror,” NYT, November 30, 1998). Alan Riding wrote:

 

…… her final sentences suggest she had emerged from her own dark tunnel: ”And with dream-awakened eyes, she saw all the beauty around her, saw the sea, felt the sun and knew: she had to vanish for a while from the human plane and make every sacrifice in order to create her world anew out of the depths…….

Charlotte Salomon: Life and the Maiden premieres at the New York Jewish Film Festival on Jan. 18, 2023. Mira Fox writes in “Why is this Jewish artist’s murder confession being hidden again? Forward, 1/17/23:

 

https://forward.com/culture/532229/charlotte-salomon-life-and-the-maiden-murder-confession-review/?utm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=afternoonedition_5943864

 

For years after Charlotte Salomon died at age 26 in Auschwitz, her father Albert and stepmother Paula only showed the manuscript she left behind to one person: Otto Frank. He, too, had shown the Salomons his daughter Anne’s diary to ask if they thought it was worth publishing ……

 

…… Charlotte’s parents published her manuscript too — also editing out the most controversial part — but it’s hard to imagine anyone less likely than Charlotte to be turned into a similarly angelic, appealing heroine.

 

….. Salomon tells the story of her life, including family dysfunction, multiple suicides, and her toxic love affair with a man 21 years her senior.

….. in a 35-page confession scrawled in all-caps with rusty-colored paint — and excised from the work by her parents — she confesses to murdering her own grandfather, who sexually abused her, feeding him a “Veronal omelet” full of barbiturates and sketching him as he died.

 

Prov. 31:30-31 states:

 

ל  שֶׁקֶר הַחֵן, וְהֶבֶל הַיֹּפִי:    אִשָּׁה יִרְאַת-יְהוָה, הִיא תִתְהַלָּל.        30 Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

לא  תְּנוּ-לָהּ, מִפְּרִי יָדֶיהָ;    וִיהַלְלוּהָ בַשְּׁעָרִים מַעֲשֶׂיהָ.  {ש}      31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her works praise her in the gates.


Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored “Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel.” He can be reached at gershonhepner@gmail.com.

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

IAC Panel Debates Extent of Leftist Antisemitism

Perhaps the most noteworthy panel on antisemitism from the Israeli-American Council (IAC) National Summit at the Fairmont Hotel in Austin, TX was the January 20 panel titled “Antisemitism in America: Defending U.S. Vital Bond with Israel…”

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

x
Scroll to Top