A life she doesn’t understand how to live – Death and the Maiden by Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele, Death and the Maiden. 1915
Egon Schiele, Death and the Maiden. 1915

On a bed of rocks lies a man holding a woman. His lips are resting on her hair and his eyes are staring into space. His hands are touching her head and her shoulder, pressing his weight on her body as if he wanted to distance himself from her. Is he making the right choice by surrounding her with his unforgettable presence? The woman holds the man’s body tightly with both hands, she doesn’t want to let go. Both have their bodies bent and their knees arched. Similar in their muscularity, they exert their strength to stay both near and far from each other simultaneously. The opposite forces they create for one another have frozen their bodies, leaving them to embrace for a while.

He came to take her to Death where he belongs. It is a land of darkness and cold skies, where no heart beats and no air is breathed. He takes suffering souls away from their pain, liberating them from the suffocation of their emotions and their unwillingness to a life they do not understand how to live. Like a nurturing parent, he washes away the tears and murmurs reassuring words. He tells his children that he has come to put their agony to an end. This life was not for them, and now he is taking them where they belong, a life with less inner introspection and fewer torments. He apologizes endlessly, he shouldn’t have left them alone all this time, in a world where they felt inadequate and lost. In the realm of Death, each soul he rescues is reborn with the will to live a life made for them, for their precious sensitivity and their profound emotions.


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