Thursday, February 22, 2018

Graphic Images from the Rijksmuseum (17th century)

Pieter Jansz Saenredam
Tobias and the Angel
ca. 1655-69
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

One Angel: Palazzo Arian

     At San Raffaele Arcangelo

One angel got it all wrong.
She plopped into this
sad century feet first
in her dark clothes.
There wasn't much water
that winter – just a few
puddles really –
to break her fall.
Mud-splattered, she rose
and shook like a canine.
It didn't take long
to see her soaked wings
as a backdrop to all
the nonmagic to which we were
accustomed, or to see
what passed for history
as a forgetting of sorts.
(Was that one or two wars?)
Strange how, as she limped
down a dim vicolo,
some willful disc hovered
above her more florid
than a sky – how the putrid
puddles with their last
reflections could neither
correct nor register that light.

– Ann Snodgrass (1999)

Carlo Maratti
Drapery study of kneeling Cardinal
ca. 1650-80
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Anonymous Italian printmaker
Antique sculpture fragment, so-called Sons of Niobe
etching, engraving
ca. 1600-1700
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Hubert Quellinus
Statue of Adonis
ca. 1646-70
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Statue

I propose to you
a body bleached, a body
which would be dead
were it not alive.

We will stand it up
in the garden which
we have taken such pains
to water. All the flowers

will grow at its feet
and evenings it will
soften there as the darkness
comes down from such space.

Perhaps small sounds
will come from it, perhaps
the wind only, but its
mouth, could one see it

will flutter. There will be
a day it walks just before
we come to look at it, but by then
it will have returned to its place.

– Robert Creeley (1966)

Stefano della Bella
Design for Medici Coat of Arms
ca. 1649-64
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Carlo Cesio after Domenichino after Annibale Carracci
Three ornamental nudes from Palazzo Farnese, Rome
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Carlo Cesio after Domenichino after Annibale Carracci
Three ornamental nudes from Palazzo Farnese, Rome
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Adriaen van de Velde
ca. 1646-72
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Adriaen van de Velde
ca. 1646-72
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

from A Nude by Edward Hopper

but this body
is home, my childhood
is buried here, my sleep
rises and sets inside,
crested and wore itself thin
between these bones –
I live here.

– Lisel Mueller (1967)

Adriaen van de Velde
ca. 1646-72
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Pieter van Gunst after Gérard de Lairesse
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Boëtius van Everdingen after Raphael
Standing figure of Mercury
ca. 1640
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Anthony van Dyck
Self Portrait
plate cut 1630-32, printed 1645-46
etching, engraving
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Arnold Boonen
Self Portrait
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Anonymous Dutch printmaker
St Peter's, Rome
ca. 1688-98
hand-colored etching
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

An Apartment with a View

I am in Rome, Vatican bells tolling
a windowful of God and Bernini.
My neighbor, the Pope, has died
and God overnight, has wept
black mantles over the sainted
stone age whose skirted shadows
flit through to the main cave.

I nurse a cold. It must be error
to sniffle in sight of holiness.
"Liquids," the doctor said. He has
no cure, but since I have my choice,
I sip champagne. If I must sit
dropsical to Heaven, let me at least
be ritual to a living water.

In the crypt under the cave
the stone box in its stone row
has been marked for months now.
My neighbor knew where he was going.
I half suspect I, too, know,
and that it is nothing to sneeze at,
but am left to sneeze.

I drink my ritual Moët et Chandon
and wish (my taste being misformed
for the high authentic) I had
a California – a Korbel
or an Almaden. I like it "forward,"
as clerics of such matters say,
not schooled to greatness.

It is loud in Heaven today
and in the the great stone school
my neighbor kept.
The alumni procession of saints
is forming for him. Bells
clobber the air with portents.
I sniffle and sneeze,

wad kleenex, and sip champagne,
trying to imagine what it might be
to take part in a greatness,
or even in the illusion
of something like. The experience
might deepen my character,
though I am already near

the bottom of it, among wads and butts
of what was once idea. And the last swallow
I do not like the after-taste, if that
is what I am tasting. But this is ritual.
I toast my neighbor: may he
find his glass, and may its after-taste
be all that he was schooled to.

– John Ciardi (1979)

Poems from the archives of Poetry (Chicago)