Allow one hand to caress the other, feel the fine sensations through the skin of your fingertips, their manual perfection, capacity to reach out, touch and sense the rough and smooth, warmth and cold. The power of hands to hold, give, heal, remember, receive, express feelings and ideas, inner states – hands that trace shapes and yield to shapes, strong hands that build and destroy, and skilful hands that wield the tool, the brush and pen …
Käthe Kollwitz, ‘Zertretene’ 1900
Käthe Kollwitz – Mütter, Krieg, 1919
The two drawings by Käthe Kollwitz (July 1867 – April 1945) show the incredibly gentle hands that protect – from a collection of her work in a ‘Die Blauen Bücher’ series, discovered by a friend in a second-hand bookshop in St Just, Cornwall. She posted the book to me this week. I was reminded of the plight of mothers in situations where disease and violence are, once again, out of control. And – how so often, dogmatic politics, religious or otherwise, have programmed generations to de-value the body – its wisdom, beauty and need for expression.
And there remains the question, what is being taken out of our hands? Here a wonderful video I found at the National Film Board Canada site: Faces of the Hand
And the lines from two poets whose tool of passion was the pen.
From ‘Leaves of Grass’ by Walt Whitman
… I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul,
The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me,
The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into new tongue ….
From ‘The Marriage between Heaven and Hell’ by William Blake
… The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom …