Paul Klee, Swiss, 1879-1940
Angelus Novus, 1920
India ink, color chalks and brown wash on paper, 32.2 x 24.2 cm
Gift of Fania and Gershom Scholem, Jerusalem, John Herring, Marlene and Paul Herring, Jo-Carole and Ronald Lauder, New York
Collection The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
A storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such a violence that
the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his
back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call
Walter Benjamin on Angelus Novus
Origin is the goal.
all a-spin on the roof;
points everywhere at once.
Drunk with wind,
the angel keeps going in circles.
The world’s screen saver clicks off.
And you with rain on the inside
soaked beyond bone, beyond
the beginning of bone,
refuse to open the window.
Don’t worry, it’s already here.
We know the past
only in relation to itself—
the future on the other hand,
The new angel seems to rise
and fall at the same time,
like a sequence of events inverted,
thunder and lightning,
then back again.
Evolution is more than growth,
it’s a mix of conservation
What does not happen,
No match for the winds.
The angel’s wings
beat at the storm the way the heart hammers
Just for a second. The tornado
will carry you wherever
you want to go.
The prediction calls for
darkening skies, more wind,
are advised to remain grounded,
we take flight.