"Death of Adam" by Piero della FrancescaPoetry on Piero della Francesca’s ‘History of the True Cross,’ by Michael Coy The Society January 20, 2021 Art, Beauty, Culture, Ekphrastic, Poetry 1 Comment . The Death of Adam Excerpted from Musings on Piero della Francesca’s “History of the True Cross,” in the Church of San Francesco, Arezzo, Italy There’s always both: the sacred and profane. The right tends to the former, left the latter. The weak side’s earthbound, ugly, heavy matter, where even Mankind’s Father’s on the wane. However, there’s The Tree. In spite of Cain, No matter how we sever, sunder, scatter, salvation’s handed to us on a platter. If Adam died, he didn’t die in vain. Seed enters through the orifice, and sprouts. Our molecules don’t die, they just regroup. Death? Birth, marriage?—Jumping through the hoop. Each individual is racked by doubts, but tranquil tropes just complete the loop. Eternity is mere primordial soup. Nine panels (if we drop the “Annunciation,” the evil fruit of nepotism, simony and other ills), a far-from straight narration, obscure events, abstruse concatenation, distractions in the shape of sundry women he encountered on sabbatical in Rimini, all render this improbable creation a triumph, and an ultimate salvation. Fine drawing. Elements which interlace. The whole achieved with understated grace. And art that’s richer, since its simple span has freed it up. Man’s measure now is Man! Old Adam is now dying. Seth decides to ask for Heaven’s help. An angel shows him where The Garden is, and then confides: “Seek out the Tree of Knowledge, which provides for Man’s prosperity. Whatever grows out of its seeds will do great deeds, for those are fruits of Heaven.” Adam’s life subsides. Seth’s reappearance barely coincides with father’s final moments. On his tongue the son inserts the seeds of knowledge. Seth observes that shoots and tendrils, vital, young, are now cascading from his mouth. Among the mourners, heartbreak at their father’s death combines with something else. His dying breath is not an end. A greater life has sprung from what he was. The wonder spreads along the line of relatives. One daughter’s scream (who’s left to doubt Piero’s on a mission?) prefigures crucifixion. It’s a scheme so radical as almost to blaspheme against accepted norms of composition! The left-to-right and up-and-down rendition resembles Jesus’ Cross and, beam by beam, sets out to re-invent—and thus redeem. The horizontal planes are plain as day. Above there’s no corruption, static sky. Below, commotion. Catastrophic clay convulses creatures. Caught in passion-play, condemned from cradle to their dying cry to struggle, ail and fail, decline and die, they dance their barren ballet of decay. Like cinders in the wind, they’re blown away. But don’t forget the vertical. The tree luxuriates and dominates the scene. Piero plies with due humility Alberti’s strictures. Note the symmetry— the fluted column where the mobled queen reveres the timber, or the neat machine for pulling Jews from trenches—could it be, that middle-line divider helps us see? . . Barrister, teacher and journalist, Michael Coy is an Irish poet who has settled permanently in the south of Spain. He readily admits to a serious rhyme-and-rhythm habit. Winner of various poetry prizes in Britain and Ireland, Michael has been published fairly regularly in the British poetry journal, ”Orbis.” NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to email@example.com. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) One Response C.B. Anderson February 3, 2021 The elaborate train of thoughts in this poem is much to my liking. I also liked your “free” rhyme. Perhaps there is a pattern there, but so far I have not been able to figure it out. No matter! The poem is rich in idea and in rhyme, and that’s what kept me interested. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.