Saturday, November 26, 2011


What is a "windrose"? Nelly Sachs's 1949 poem "Hiob" begins:

O Du Windrose der Qualen!
Von Urzeitstürmen
in immer andere Richtungen der Unwetter gerissen;
noch dein Süden heißt Einsamkeit.
Wo du stehst, ist der Nabel der Schmerzen.

At first I thought it might be a pinwheel, but it's the representations on old sea charts of the directions of the winds, radiating lines which crisscross the map. (It was later incorporated in compasses, and more recently refined to show the relative strength of winds from different directions in a given place.) Job as "windrose of torments" on the map of human life and history: a powerful image. Must find a way to cite it.

17th century images from here and here

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