Paul Hartal

The Science Of Freedom - Poem by Paul Hartal

For Joseph Beuys,1921-1986

The coordinates of history are the masters of fate:
Where and when we are born determine paths of destiny.

You were fascinated by art but worked as a circus acrobat.
You enrolled to study medicine but Hitler’s war came
And you volunteered to fly in the Luftwaffe.

Diving almost vertically from the skies
You were a rear gunner on a JU 87 Stuka bomber.

Plunging downward with accelerating speed,
The sirens on the wheels screaming terrifyingly in the wind,
Your plane descended on its targets, bringing devastation
And horror to distant lands and nations.

And then,
On a deadly mission in 1943,
Russian fire hit your plane
And you crashed in the Crimea,
The co-pilot killed.

You were severely injured
and say Tatars rescued you,
Covered your body with fat and wrapped it in felt
To keep you warm and so they saved your life.

You created a personal myth out of your wounds
A resurrection and the longing for warmth,
The yearning for caring human contact.

After the war, when you were released
From the British prisoner camp,
You went to study art in Düsseldorf.

You became a professor of sculpture fond of performance.
Once in 1965 walking in a gallery, your face covered
With honey and gold leaf, you held a dead hare
In your arms and explained to it the pictures.

For you, art was the science of freedom
A healing force capable of saving the planet.

In the last years of your life your hands planted
Seven thousand oaks in Kassel.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, October 6, 2011

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