VIEWING THE TADDEI TONDO
(Michelangelo Buonarroti), The Royal Academy.
It’s obvious half realisation
is more fascinating, enigmatic
than bold, bezelled actualisation.
We’ve climbed vitreous steps, automatic
in our assumption they will bear our weight,
and now stand face to face with Christ, St. John.
The babe recoils from His prefigured fate.
A goldfinch holds their- and our- attention.
This is that same bird whose blasphemous theft
of berries from Messiah’s thorny crown
drew scarlet beads from His brow: all this left
to our imagination and not shown-
a veil not dragged right back, but partly drawn.
And marble’s own epiphany, eclat
provides the nimbus we rely upon,
hallowing all with a magnificat.
We seem to stand upon mere reflection,
art aiding in us the visionary;
summoning faith in His resurrection:
elevation from the ordinary.
Our souls are gradually teased, released
as we feel translucence behind stone’s chill.
In a blink we find wonders haven’t ceased
and the master chisel is not yet still.
Like struggling slave figures in Florence,
who grapple to achieve transformation
from half-hewn blocks, seeking deliverance,
our striving eases in adoration.
Contemplating heaven with feet of clay,
we find relief; moulds break and fall away.