Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hecht and Bellini "At the Frick"

Giovanni Bellini, "St. Francis in Ecstasy," 1480
Poet Anthony Hecht 

At the Frick
by Anthony Hecht

Before a grotto of blue-tinted rock
Master Bellini has set down St. Francis.
A light split through the Apennines to lock,
Counter, and splice man’s painful doubleness.
Else he could weakly couple at the belt
His kite-mind to his cloven nether parts
That seek to dance their independent dances.
The sudden light descending came to bless
His hands and feet with blisters, and to melt
With loving that most malleable of hearts.

Birds in the trees his chronicles recite:
How that God made of him a living net
To catch all graces, yet to let through light.
Fisher of birds and lepers, lost in thought,
Darkly emblazoned, where the oblivious mule
Champs at the grasses and the sunset rusts
The hilltop fortress, where the painter set
Heron and rabbit, it was here he caught
Holiness that came swimming like a school
Of silver fishes to outlast his lusts.

Now I have seen those mountains, and have seen
The fawn go frozen on the road with fear
Of the careening autobus, the sheen
Of its dilated eyes flash in its head
Like glass reflectors, and have seen the trees
As green as ever where their braches thresh
The warm Italian winds of one more year
Since that great instant. The painter’s dead
Who brought the Doge and nobles to the knees
Of the wind’s Brother Francis in the flesh.

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