Sunday, January 13, 2008

Greatest Hits Gallery--Laura M.

Combining ekphrasis and midrash, some poems focused on art and some on music, made up the heart of Laura M's portfolio. Two of her pieces are sonnets, formally adept yet playful and devout, on panels from the Ghiberti Florentine baptistry doors we viewed earlier in the fall at the Chicago Art Institute.

Meditation I: On Ghiberti’s Creation Panel, Front and Back

I saw Ghiberti form a god-like face,
And on the hidden back imprint his thumb;
His wax seemed bubbled, lumped, crude—all its sum
Could only hint at some forthcoming grace.
And when he broke the bronze from its clay case,
He turned aside to make more tools; before
He purified with heat the lustrous ore,
His Maker’s face the lesser sculptor chased.
That higher Sculptor needed no bronze pools—
No chisel but His breath for chasing tools;
A Word was metal fit for the world’s panels,
And for its sprues—affixed as saving channels
Through which His molten grace could freely run—
He crossed upon its back His only Son.

Meditation II: Adam and Eve on the Creation Panel

He paints the smaragdine new world with gold;
Our vitiated eyes must have a screen
To see the angels’ song-tied gaze—the cold
Bronze shields the loss of Eden’s perfect scene.
The snake is captive, bound in low relief,
So we, imprisoned viewers, may keep free
From memory of fear and sudden grief
That our lives could be strangled, like that tree.
But then—the master sculptor lost control!
His balance tilts—a host of weeping wings
Cascades in flood from heaven’s cut-glass bowl;
And through the downpour Michael’s sad fist swings.
From that deluge no fallen frame can hide,
Though torn leaves show that—goodness knows—we tried.

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