east of the sun west of the moon her heart it fits into a spoon | two blinding beasts at her command your heart it freezes in her hand || east of the moon west of the sun they're pouncing on you when you run | each single strike of their black claws unique in shape like flakes of snow || although you offer them the bones and blindfold kisses of a child | they won't refrain from causing pain tearing the flesh out of your side || although my words can charm a swarm of homing birds out of the sky | and though my tales can fool a school of traveling whales onto the coast | none of the songs that i composed can help you fight that polar ghost | and all i ask is that you listen and you kiss with your eyes... | all i ask is that you listen and you kiss with your eyes closed ||
This song was inspired by the painting "The Ice Maiden" by the French painter Edmund Dulac. By the end of the 19th century, Dulac had become a world-renowned illustrator of books. He was married to and madly in love with Marguerite Merentié, a famous opera-singer in Paris. One night in 1911, Merentié was run over by a carriage on her way home after performing at the opera. Dulac was devastated and subsequently had a breakdown. He ceased painting for years until the German composer Clara Schumann, with whom he exchanged letters, sent him the fairy tale "The Dreamer of Dreams" by Mary, Queen of Roumania. Dulac was fascinated by the book, and started to create a series of illustrations for it. The final illustration was that of "The Ice Maiden," depicting the figure of a woman standing in a wide, flat field of snow, accompanied by two giant polar bears.
After he had finished it, Dulac wrote feverish letters to Schumann, telling her how uncannily the ice maiden's face resembled that of his deceased wife, and how threatened he felt by the painting. "The memory of Marguerite," he wrote, "takes shape in the two beasts by her side, who come jumping right out of the painting and leap at me every night! Liver, lung, heart and skull... there’s no part of me they would not gladly tear to pieces! Not even music is a comfort any more. Every woman's face on the stage is her face!"
Schumann felt deeply for her friend, and wrote back, "I know that none of the music that I've composed could be of any help to you. But all I ask is that you listen and you kiss with your eyes closed."
Dulac never got a chance to read this final letter of Schumann. He died a week before its arrival, of undisclosed causes.
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