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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Triduum greetings--

A lovely crucifixion in linden (12" x 16″) by the interesting Montreal icon carver, Jonathan Pageau. From "Understanding the Icons of Holy Week,"…/.  You may meet facets of him at Orthodox Arts Journal, twitter, and YouTube. Go to his gallery at Pageau Carvings to see more of his art. I'm fond of his writings and podcasts about symbology, perhaps because--human weakness!--I find them congruent with my own thoughts.

Ekphrasis for Triduum

Christ Washing the Feet of the Apostles
by Meister des Hausbuches, 1475 (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin)
Wikipedia, public domain

And here's a little ekphrastic poem....

The Thursday of Mysteries   
   After Christ Washing the Feet of the Apostles
              Meister des Hausbuches, 1475

Dim clashing measures like muffled cymbals
As halos make the music of the spheres…
The apostles are crowded on the pews,
Some watching and some not as Jesus Christ
In his halo leafing with three branches
Gestures upward and to the water bowl
That is like another halo, fallen
To the floor and waiting for the maundy
Foot of innocent and guilty alike.
The room looks like some holy carpenter’s
Medieval caravan, all fitted out
With paneling and mullions with crown glass;
In the unfolding distance, see the stairs
Slanting leftward over the black archway
That might mark entrance to a waiting tomb.
There’s Judas, all his facial lines tugged down,
And on a shelf a platter like some lost
Halo, unneeded, there for change of mind. 

                                      reprinted from Mezzo Cammin 

"For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning,
 that we should love one another."


  1. Should I even continue commenting on The Palace at 2 AM since I'm beginning to wonder if I am worthy enough to undo the latchet of your shoes. This post sent me scurrying for a definition of ekphrastic (wondering all the while whether there was a c missing between the e and the k. Ah, I see. Greek.). Followed by a period in which I wondered - agonisingly - whether I'd ever aspired to a work of art produced as rhetorical exercise, often used adjectivally. Decided to go no further. Rhetoric and its siblings are a can of worms with some widely divergent meanings.

    I particularly liked: the water bowl
    That is like another halo, fallen...

    I'll go no further. Today is Easter Day, an occasion which some (most?) Christians believe to be more important than Christmas. Better I should cross to the other side of the road. There is a precedent.

    1. Pooh! (That's for the latchet part...) I am the last person to describe that way. In my upcoming book, the person I identify most with is the Fool.

      And if you're going to decide what not to do based on "some (most?) Christians," well, a foundation stone of the religion is that every human being on the face of the earth bears "the likeness" of God. So there's equality for you.

      I have a college classmate who has done a whole manuscript of ekphrastic poems. That's quite a lot! She has a couple of books that are not ekphrastic, too. I have some here and there.

      You might argue, however, that it is a lesser thing to lean on another art work to that degree. But it is a fun thing to do. And many poets have them. There's even a journal devoted to them. Probably called Ekphrasis!

      But I also have a couple that I don't know what to call. I mean, if the painting is imaginary, what do you call it? For example, the Phoenicia anthology that we were both in has "Iconography of an Imaginary Medieval Painting."

      Then there's "The Annunciation Appears in a Painting by Andrew Wyeth," in which I add something to an existing painting. So those are probably two invented categories that maybe don't exist. Or maybe do--I don't know!

  2. Wishing you a happy Easter from the Maryland woods! We're watching the beds in our new little shaded yard to see what the previous owners of our home, in their wisdom and experience, planted years ago. So far we've an abundance of hostas and several bleeding hearts. There's a metaphor for faith and tradition in there, waiting for someone to word it better than I just have....

    1. I do love bleeding hearts, though mine are being crowded out by solomon's seal at the moment (that's probably also weirdly emblematic!)

      And a happy end of Holy Week to you! Enjoy your new home...

  3. St. Matthew's Cathedral is handy to my workplace, so generally I go there on Holy Thursday. The washing of feet by the archbishop is one of the factors that extends the service. I meant to notice this time whether he puts a towel around his waist, but didn't: I think he does not. But twelve pairs of feet he does wash.

    1. So he sticks to twelve? Well, that is certainly exact and appropriate. In Cooperstown, we just wash any dirty feet that show up! XD

  4. Happy Easter .... such a complicated moveable feast .... the theology is mind bending .... I wonder: which has inspired more art: Easter to Christmas....hmmmm...

    1. Is it complicated or profoundly simple or simply profound?

      I don't know which has the more art, but Pascha or Easter is responsible for both Easter and Christmas art... Christmas is meaningful because of Easter, right? So it gives birth to all Christian art.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.