We forget that poetry is not only in the art of the poet; it is also in the soul of things.—Raïssa Maritain, Chagall ou I’Orage enchante, (Chagall or the Magical Storm).
In her 1948 essay, the French poet and philosopher, Raïssa Maritain, characterized Chagall’s work from the observer’s perspective: “A painting by Chagall is a tranquil, poised countenance; it is a presence which imposes itself even upon those who are deaf to poetry’s voice. But those who hear are told, not voluntarily, but through the very power of this art, a thousand dreams and mysteries which are, so to speak, the secret network of the arterial tree of the work: they secure life and they express life, the ineradicable images of childhood, the wishes of the heart, the joy of the eyes.”
Describing Chagall’s use of images she goes on to say: “poetry is the great animator, the great purifier of Chagall’s work. Each of his paintings . . . is alive with the shimmer of poetry and appeals to the depths of our being, draws us into an intimate dialogue . . . We forget that poetry is not only in the art of the poet; it is also in the soul of things.”