Young Woman with Halo


   Six hundred years ago, this was
   Mary Magdalene in designer dress,
   wife-to-be of a Florentine noble,
   the painting, a family commission.

   To palazzo guests she’d be as devout 
   and chaste as the one made saint,
   reading a hand-written prayer book –
   which none of the Marys ever had.

   This outrage didn’t matter then,
   of course, to medieval minds
   accepting what true religions
   fudge as the centuries come and go.

   And does it matter now, do we care,
   that this painting still gets away with it,
   and spawns postcards and fridge-magnets
   for barbarian hordes trundling past?

   Whatever … like an unquestioning
   fool, I’ve got myself one of each.


   Piero di Cosimo 1462-1522   Saint Mary Magdalene


© Nemo 2020
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For me, a well-written and interesting poem, connecting then and now with careful phrasings that shows your high-standards are still achievable, Gerald. (Look a lot better brought in from the left three indenture increments, which is easy to do?) I’ve always thought that painting to be of strange anatomical proportions – her left shoulder and arm seems to be too long and large, the exact opposite to wine bottle shoulders that won’t keep a bra strap up! She must look like an Orangutang when naked? Beautiful classic face though. I would buy a couple of tourist postcards too! Great writing,… Read more »

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