In her own words...



A young sinner grew weary of Olympus. He went to the head of the stairs where the 3 graces sat knitting sweaters for their earthly sons. (Winter was at hand.) Each of them smiled secretly at the young sinner, each believing she was the only one whom he had provided with pleasant memories. But they wouldn’t let him pass.

“It’s a cruel place,” said one. “How will you nourish yourself?”

“On destinies,” he answered promptly. “Take the laughter of 7 maidens, stir in several of the moonbeams that fall across their beds. Add the head of a procession, a few umbrella ribs and a tale of hilarious crime. Season it madly and serve on collection plates.”

“But,” said another, barring the way, “where will you go?”

“To picnics,” said he, making a perfect triple pirouette.

The third grace laid her knitting in her lap where it formed a pretty, medium-sized fig-leaf. She turned her eyes up to him and said softly, “What will you do?”

She looked so charming that for a moment the young sinner hesitated. Perhaps he wouldn’t go after all. But he recovered himself and said:

“Please be advised that I will vaccinate the world with a desire for violent and perpetual astonishment. Disguised in my own presence, I will conduct a horde through the five aqueducts of knowledge after which their guardians will ask the authorities for replacements. I will provoke prodigies. When I have built the torpid town certain words will fall into disuse: eminent prominent peerless noble honorable lordly stately august princely majestic sacred and sublime. I will make rhapsodies from grains of sleep. I’ll wrap up a man-making hat and drop it in the mailbox. I’ll hold a revolver up to nature. When professional critics lose themselves in the swamp I’ll arrange a delegation of chimeras with their own language and their own secrets. As for the night, I will discover all its phases. And I will fall in love.”

The 3 graces had been looking rather sleepy but at the last words they opened their mouths in horror, then picked up their knitting and fled.

With his glittering blue eyes the young sinner sent lightning strokes after them — a parting gift. Then he ran down the steps, two at a time.


About this work

"Legend," from "About Max Ernst: At Eye Level, Poems and Comments," Max Ernst: 30 Years of His Work, A Survey. Exhibition catalogue. The Copley Galleries, Beverly Hills, 1949, p. 16.