Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Caravaggio and St John the Baptist

Caravaggio’s St John the Baptist

(Published at The Ekphrastic Review. A longer, more narrative form of this poem appeared originally at Verse-Virtual.)

I walk through a darkened crypt
past fading depictions of gospel scenes
and suddenly there it is,
not a prophet from the Judaean wilderness
with fiery, uncompromising words
but a slender youth
rendered in exquisite truthfulness.

He turns from his simple shepherd's task
as if you've suddenly surprised him,
a complex mixture of knowledge,
amusement, confidence and shyness,
a friendly, joyous gaze,
as if the nuance of his mind
in this single, fleeting moment
has been caught in Caravaggio’s brush
and effortlessly placed upon the canvas

so we, who come to it after many centuries,
can be transfixed by its beauty and truth
and be privileged by the momentary glimpse
into the mind of that boy
and the transcendent power that captured it.

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