I am very happy to have had my poem The Taking of Christ published in the latest SHOp magazine. At the same time, I am very sad because this is the final edition. John and Hilary Wakeman have decided the time has come to retire after many years with ‘SHOp’ and (in John’s case) previously with the Rialto Poetry Magazine. I am very indebted to SHOp for publishing my work over the years. The standard was always very high and publication alongside some of poetry’s finest practitioners always brought a feeling of validation. Publication of a poem is a big event in a poet’s writing life and publication in SHOp was always even more special than usual. I wish both John and Hilary every good wish in their retirement.
I am also indebted to The National Gallery of Ireland for their permission to reproduce in this blog Caravaggio’s extraordinary painting, the inspiration for my poem.
The Taking of Christ
from the painting by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (National Gallery of Ireland)
All have fled save one and he in terror
struggles to escape into the darkness,
arms outspread, his cloak caught by a soldier
while the one they’ve come for is surrounded,
turns his cheek to take the lethal kiss.
High in the right-hand corner there’s a lantern
held above the swirl of cloth and armour
by a man who pushes past a soldier –
wants a closer look at how it is
that loyalty is so readily thrust aside.
This scene has occupied his brush so long
he has become a part of it. He,
reprobate and murderer in his time,
could not but paint himself one of the throng
irrupts into Gethsemane tonight.
Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio, 1571-1610, The Taking of Christ, 1602.
Oil on canvas 133.5 x 169.5cm
By Kind permission and courtesy of the National Gallery of Ireland and the Jesuit Community of Leeson Street, Dublin, who acknowledge the generosity of the late Dr Marie Lea-Wilson.
Photo © National Gallery of Ireland.