Albrecht Dürer and me
why travel if not
to grow into the unknown where we'll hit upon
what transforms us, as bread is changed
when eaten if prayers are offered beforehand
as age is held back from the listener by a story
Book DescriptionDavid Zieroth's Albrecht Dürer and me, an autobiographical travelogue spanning the author’s journeys through central Europe, explores the transformative effect of dislocation. Inspired by and responding to art and music, history and war, architecture and place, this collection unearths knowledge that can only be realized by leaving home.
Throughout the book, the observant eye of a visitor witnesses the layering of history and the contemporary, and contemplates the juxtaposition of the practical aspects of travelling ("travelling without earplugs") with emotional and spiritual evolution ("Self-portrait Nude"). Responding to greats such as W.H. Auden, James Joyce and Albrecht Dürer, the speaker expresses how viewing foreign artwork or hearing unfamiliar music can spark a new awareness, not only of international culture, but of the expression of life and the human condition.
The poems temper the high with the low, reflecting the many dualities of wanderlust. Stately homes are contrasted with war-scarred architecture, and sleepless nights, crowded trains and missed connections offset literature and symphony. "train ride" is one of many poems that reflect on the contrast between subtle signs of recent violence and horror and the otherwise calm and curated tourist experience: "I turn away from humans close at hand / to look again at boxcars and wonder / what they were filled with, carried / and left behind." "on first hearing Mahler’s Fifth" echoes that musical composition to mirror and evoke life’s song, and "weeds grew while I was away" describes the shock of returning home with the expectation of stasis only to find that things have changed.
Attentive, humble and expertly crafted, Albrecht Dürer and me is a travel diary rife with evocative image, sensory detail and eloquent reflection, narrated with an honest, mature voice.