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BABEL Verlag
Kevin Perryman


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The Cross / Das Kreuz

R.S. Thomas (1913-2000) is one of the best English-language poets of the 20th century. BABEL is proud to have been associated with his work for nearly 30 years. This publication contains six poems (English/German) related to the Cross, a central focus in his work. One of the poems has never been printed before.

The Cross / Das Kreuz was set by hand and printed in an edition of 250 copies by Thomas Siemon of carpe plumbum in Leipzig. It contains reproductions of four etchings by Vroni Schwegler. 50 special copies have an original etching bound in as a frontispiece and are numbered and signed by the artist.

The etchings in The Cross / Das Kreuz are masterpieces of the craft, echoing without irony traditional images of the Crucifixion, but remaining clearly contemporary in tone. Vroni Schwegler is well-known in the German-speaking world. For her etchings she invariably uses damaged, scratched plates which are often slightly irregularly shaped. This, together with her fine line and hatching, gives the images an extraordinary intensity and fragility. In fact, it was her images of the Crucifixion that first gave the publisher the idea of making a book of Cross poems.

    Language has run its course.
    After that first word,
    that acorn that grew
    to an immense oak-tree
    in time's forest, the leaves have begun
    falling faster and faster
    on the human garden,
    where science's breath
    lies on them like frost.
    Die Sprache hat ihren Lauf genommen.
    Nach jenem ersten Wort,
    jener Eichel, die wuchs
    zu einer riesigen Eiche
    im Wald der Zeit, haben die Blätter angefangen
    immer schneller zu fallen
    auf den menschlichen Garten,
    wo der Atem der Naturwissenschaft
    auf ihnen liegt wie Rauhreif.

Set by hand in Typoart Garamond and printed (letterpress) by Thomas Siemon, Leipzig, on 120gsm Munken Pure paper; the reproductions of the etchings were printed (offset) by Dinauer Druck, Puchheim, on Symbol Tatami ivory 135gsm; 24pp.; format: 24 x 17 cm, hand-sewn in grey Zaansch Bord wrappers in an edition of 250 copies, of which 50 are numbered and signed by the artist and include an original etching. The pure rag paper for the wrappers was made (using only discarded clothes) in the last working paper windmill in the world, De Schoolmeester, in Westzaan, the Netherlands – without chemicals, dyes or size. The etchings for the special edition were pulled in the workshop of Max Dunkes in Gronsdorf.

R.S. Thomas & Vroni Schwegler,   The Cross / Das Kreuz    ISBN 978-3-931798-37-6   £ 38

The Cross / Das Kreuz special: numbered (1-50) and signed by V. Schwegler, with etching   £ 118

cf.   The Bright Field / Das helle Feld,   Frieze,   Decidious Language / Laubbaum Sprache,   Charity's Scarecrow / Die Vogelscheuche Nächstenliebe,   With Claws of Fire / Mit Fängen aus Feuer,   Das Kreuz,   The Cross,   The Sky-Rhyming Child / Das himmelreimende Kind,   In Delicate Nooses / In zierlichen Schlingen,   Stone Twittering / Steinzwitschern,   Dove-Marks on Stone and The Cross (English) with a different previously unedited poem and, in the special edition, a different original etching

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