Wednesday, December 25, 2013

`Timeless Interaction With Our Time'

“Rejoice with their insouciant hymns of praise,
Each note a part of one felt harmony
That we would join in did we know the tune.”

The New Year begins early and bountifully with a new poem by Helen Pinkerton in the January issue of First Things: “On Taddeo di Bartolo’s `Triptych of the Madonna and Child with Angel Musicians, St. John the Baptist, and St. Jerome’ (1400, in a Private Collection).” The new work extends her “Bright Fictions” series of ekphrastic poems collected in Taken in Faith: Poems (Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 2002). The OED gives the second definition of anachronism as “anything which was proper to a former age, but is, or, if it existed, would be, out of harmony with the present.” In that sense, Pinkerton’s work is anachronistic, for many of her poems are devotional, devoted not to the transient but the eternal. They take as their subject the timeless, a reality ignored or denied by minds chained to today and the easily perceived, “baffling / Our simple minds”:   

“Affirming the eternal presence of the Son,
Whose timeless interaction with our time,
Can lift us undeservedly above
Time and our losses, when we rise to it.
Only His grace enables us to try,
And her simplicity is how we have to see.”

Bartolo (c. 1363-1422) was a painter in the Sienese School. Vasari writes of him: 

“It is the due of those craftsmen who, in order to acquire a name, put themselves to much fatigue in painting, that their works should be placed, not in a dark and dishonourable position, wherefore they may be blamed by those who have no more understanding than this, but in some spot where, through the nobility of the place, through the lights, and through the air, they can be rightly seen and studied by all, as was and still is the public work of the chapel that Taddeo Bartoli, painter of Siena, wrought in the Palazzo della Signoria in Siena.”

No comments: