THE FIRST MASTER REMEMBERED (LA PIETA, ROME)

Posted by Admin on Friday, 2nd May 2008, 00:00

The crimson damask, deeper dyed
than was a cross incarnadined at Calvary,
accentuates the chill of marble and
the cold enigma death presents –
for death is sculptured where
the corpse of Christ lies limp
upon the Virgin’s knees –
this colour contrast also marks
a preternatural calm that stems
at source a mother’s tears,
transmuting grief to infinite
compassion. The demos stilled,
deserving none, now shares
with Pilate all-embracing love.

Sublimity is there. What else
from Michelangelo’s inspired tools?
The mood expressed precisely
with set of head, extended arm,
in art some centuries removed
from Crucifixion Day –
his art of cumulative skills,
ideal yet vital, unsurpassed
full fifty decades from his time,
when, herded on our package tour,
we pause beneath St Peter’s roof,
but, still uncivilised, must stand
off held by glass that’s bullet-proof!

At a later date the latter paragraph was revised to read:

Sublimity is there. What else
from Michelangelo’s inspired tools?
The mood expressed precisely
with set of head, extended arm,
in art some centuries removed
from Crucifixion Day –
his art of cumulative skills,
ideal yet vital, unsurpassed
in mute appeal to pause, to think, and then,
in reverence, to kneel!

T. C. Hudson
© T. C. Hudson.

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