Under the Spell
Veronese had visions to the end,
entranced beyond the oils of his paint,
Madonna with child in flight through dark woods,
a saint calling out, preaching to the fish,
dogs and monkeys backdrop for Alexander,
a last supper with fools and jesters thought
heresy by those who’d cast sinners out,
man in crisis between virtue and vices,
shown not just in looks but for who we are.
Even gods rose from his paint, flashing
to the surface but for a moment the way
Venus holds Mars in the fold of her cloak
while her boy keeps at bay the war god’s steed.
With figures at crossroads and beyond,
the painter thought in images to reach us
in public hall and church whom he’d have
dumbstruck by his soft colours and strong forms,
truer to the light than what can be known.
Behold his high Lady of the Venetian state,
Respublica, to whose bounty of mind
the goddess Ceres pays homage, bearing
to her the radiant gift of blonded wheat.
She sits on her throne, a lion at her feet,
wildness brought to order by the beauty
of her ways that rules over land and sea.
Sovereign and serene, she is not alone,
closest to her, to whisper in her ear,
the poet Orpheus, the pliant sceptre
of her realm held up before his face
as if to show the fit between her powers
and that of the poet’s, whose head crowned
with laurel is nearest hers but whose eyes
look out to a world beyond. The painter
thus would have beauty and grace prevail
over men’s minds who cannot be tamed,
unlike the lion, if not by what they love.
And when no harmony can persuade,
then, alas, must she stoop to Hercules
staring at the lion, waiting for release.
Anthony DiMatteo's chapbook Fishing for Family is just out (Kelsay Books). His latest book of poems In Defense of Puppets (Future Cycle Press) has been hailed as, "a rare collection, establishing a stunningly new poetic and challenging the traditions that DiMatteo (as Renaissance scholar) claims give the poet 'the last word'"(Cider Press Review). Recent poems and reviews have sprouted in The American Journal of Poetry, CimarronReview, Clade Song, Hunger Mountain, and UCity Review.
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