Clay Feet - Poem by gershon hepner
“D’you think God knows what He is doing? ”
a few bold angels dared to ask
when He created Man. At their first viewing,
they saw that He had botched this task,
because He’d left Man’s legs unfinished,
and though his brilliant brain held sway,
his human stature was diminished
because he stood on feet of clay.
A golden oldie now, Man’s not
improved in time, and every gate
of paradise is closed, and what
the angels said explains his fate.
God made his brain more brilliant than
the apes from which he had descended,
but giving feet of clay to Man
made him than angels far less splendid.
Roberta Smith (“Golden Oldies with a New Sparkle, ” NYT, October 30,2007) writes about an exhibition of three of “The Gates of Paradise” by Lorenzo Ghiberti at the Metropolitan Museum:
Most of the historic sculptures, frescoes and edifices of early-15th-century Florence are not the least bit portable. It’s simple: You want to see them, you go to Florence. But right now nearly a third of one of the city’s greatest glories can be seen without leaving town, by visiting “The Gates of Paradise: Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Renaissance Masterpiece” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This show presents 3 of the 10 gilded bronze reliefs that decorate the doors created by Ghiberti from 1425 to 1452 for the 12th- to 13th-century Baptistery of San Giovanni. Newly cleaned, they have never looked more golden or less oldie. One of the treasures of the early Renaissance, the 17-foot-high doors depict Old Testament scenes in a radically new fusion of physical action, emotional intensity and narrative complexity. Especially the three reliefs at the Met. Their subjects are Adam and Eve, Jacob and Esau, and David and Goliath. Each is pictorially unified and yet, in a different way, almost cinematic in effect… Ghiberti’s feeling for physical detail and emotional nuance keeps his surfaces alive, edge to edge. As Adam and Eve’s story unfolds, for example, angels register everything from joy to skepticism to alarm. (An angel watching God awaken Adam seems to be asking, “Does he know what he’s doing? ”)
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