Today is Poetry Day, the start of Poetry Week in the Netherlands. Escher was not a poet, but he had a poetic spirit. He must have, to create his mind-boggling oeuvre. Moreover, his works lend themselves very well to being used as subject matter for poetry. To mark the occasion of Poetry Day, we are drawing attention to a special publication on Escher, the title page of which comes close to a poem. And if he was not a poet, then he was a troubadour.
In 1958 bibliophilic ‘Stichting De Roos’ (De Roos Foundation) published his book Regelmatige vlakverdeling (Regular Division of the Plane). This beautiful book is the best known and most valuable publication issued by this foundation. The title page says:
‘The printmaker has something of the minstrel spirit;’
It continues on the next page of the book:
‘he sings, and in every print that is made from a single block of wood, copper plate or lithographic stone he repeats his song, over and over again. It does not really matter if the occasional sheet gets lost or stained or torn; there copies enough to convey his thoughts, and if there are not sufficient available he can print a new series, in which each individual work is equally perfect, original and complete, as long as the plate from which it is printed is not worn.’
Escher realised that a book about his fascination with the regular division of the plane accompanied by six exclusive prints of his work might prove to be something special. In 1956 he wrote to Karel Asselbergs, a member of the De Roos Foundation’s board:
‘It might become a most curious publication; or something, at any rate (and said in all modesty), that no other graphic artist on the entire planet would be able to furnish you with. It does not sound very modest, but what can I do about it? That is just the way it is.’