10/10/2011

giuditta decapita oloferne



At last don't you think that the only aim of Giuditta is to move away to avoid the blood which could stain her dress?” - Roberto Longhi

Sumptuous, sanguinary,
the morbidezza of her flesh, her butcher's forearm.
Frowning deliberation.. They might be, the women,
two midwives at a bloody accouchement,
lit by the bale-fire of politicised passion:
Caravaggio's lantern. Fabric creased, distressed,
shadows softening brisk violence,
the spray of arterial blood finely stippling
tribal vengeance and the secret strength of women.
And she smote twice upon his neck
with all her might, and she took away
his head from him...
(That blood-speck on her breast!)

There's a staged composure to it, sculptural
with a commissioned poise.
The warm richesse of the palette
starts thoughts of the kitchen,
the muscular rite of dismemberment
undergone by the boar, ahead of a feast.
Ceremonial gusto, the carvery's business.
The circumflex of the maid's eyebrow
says something about domestic chores,
about service and the aesthetic poor.

Are we meant to see, we tarriers in the future,
Christ's face in the upended satchel
of Holofernes's? The martyred look.
The eyes locked on a dream of Justitia...
Or is it simply a genre-piece, confected
to the unspoken dictates of Medici taste?

in their deathtime

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