The painting found me as I am too lazy to find anything. It came while I was contemplating on melancholia even as melancholia has been contemplating me.
We live together. The poems have been a result of this close meshing. I would have liked to use the painting with them but the series of Ten Poems are sparse and anything intervening in those few words, even if it adds substantially, would make them fatter than they ever intend to be.
You could call these my cogitations on my lean and hungry phase.
The cult of melancholia has a different connotation.
During the early 17th century, a curious cultural and literary cult of melancholia arose in England. It was believed that religious uncertainties caused by the English Reformation and a greater attention being paid to issues of sin, damnation, and salvation, led to this effect.
In music, the post-Elizabethan cult of melancholia is associated with John Dowland, whose motto was Semper Dowland, semper dolens. ("Always Dowland, always mourning.") The melancholy man, known to contemporaries as a "malcontent," is epitomized by Shakespeare's Prince Hamlet, the "Melancholy Dane." Another literary expression of this cultural mood comes from the death-obsessed later works of John Donne. Other major melancholic authors include Sir Thomas Browne, and Jeremy Taylor, whose Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial and Holy Living and Holy Dying, respectively, contain extensive meditations on death.
A similar phenomenon, though not under the same name, occurred during Romanticism, with such works as The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe.
In the 20th century, much of the counterculture of modernism was fueled by comparable alienation and a sense of purposelessness called "anomie."
Image: Slava Khodorkovsky