Signore! Signore!

A Poem By Ben // 3/22/2002

Dear Homeschooling Friends,

Friday hits again here in Rome, and I have philosophy, theology, art, pigeons, architecture, poetry, people, and a trip to Assisi on my mind. We're reading the Physics and the Metaphysics of Aristotle right now, and we've been covering the 4 causes of everything in nature: matter, form, mover, and end. It's too complicated to explain in the limited time I have, so here's a poem I just wrote (it can't be very good).

On Tuesday I went to the church of San Luigi dei Francesi near the Pantheon to see 3 Caravaggio paintings. Sitting on the doorstep to the church there was an old woman begging for money (this is really a common thing in Rome). For some reason this woman struck me in conjunction with the Caravaggio paintings....

Signore! Signore!
the whining voice.
She deformed,
the cup held out,
her eyes rolled back horse-like.
I find myself passing the hand
to see Caravaggio.

We must pay in this church
to set the lights against
the shadows on Caravaggio's canvases.
When the coins drop, light -
yet, upon light, I can
only find that woman's human
nature mixed with the paint!

I could have given her cup
that coin I spent. Caravaggio,
dead, needs it less.
But I forget -
the calling of St. Matthew
was no pleasant request.

We will be drawn out.
So I gave her, not the cup,
a coin on leaving.
And when I see her next that day
we exchange 'good afternoon.'
As if I heard her at last,
her voice is real and whole
for two words more dignity than even
Caravaggio could paint.


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