The Menin Road

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The Menin Road, by Paul Nash

In his early years Paul Nash loved trees: they inspired in him poetry as well as painting – trees in the night, silhouetted and outlined against the larger sky, where form replaces detail, and where presence in solidity and size replaces the detailed branches of chattering birds; the black-hole of darkness swallowing up all hues.  Either way, trees are the presence of place, of what is familiar, of what is enduring, that outlive and outlast generations.

Trees that had conjured up dreams and flights of mystical fancy were to stand, nightmarish and skeletal in the landscape of man’s dreadful folly.  Blasted and amputated in the quagmire, they stand as sentinels of death and signals of slaughter: the desecration of the good, good earth.  The storm clouds of human rage menace this landscape, which is now fit neither for man, nor beast, nor bird.  Flee from this nightmare, and hope, yet, for Nature’s mighty pulse of life to revive once more.

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