Galleria Colonna, Rome

After an array of madonnas and saints,
the standard goddesses, gods, heroes, counts,
a pope or two, seven, eight cardinals
stacked beneath ceilings fringed now with angels,
now with low-flying putti, our eyes falter
between recognition and surprise at a
lonely bean-eater crouched above his bowl:
His spoon is at the ready, mouth a hole
missing some front teeth. 'Grub first, art later' -
Here within a couple of square feet
the sublime's eclipsed while appetite
continues regardless, a crater
made greyish flesh and gaping full-bite
into the future, hauntingly incomplete.

(after a painting by Pietro Longhi)

How spryly they cross the canvas -
These two apples of their daddies' eyes,
Their own eyes as bright as buttons,
Jackets of prize and embroidered velvet,
Tricorne hats da gentil'uomo,
A child-sized sword

Treading a pre-sketched diagonal,
The first horse is vivid chestnut
The second a statuesque grey

Several hands length below
A prancing spaniel and one very alarmed turkey
Headed in the same direction

To the side a paunchy slantly-peering footman
In different headgear, his left hand
Clasping the bridle, his right
A whip sprouting a few small leaves
Palazzo Venezia, Rome

Martin Wilmot Bennet

If you've any comments on his poems, Martin Wilmot Bennet would be pleased to hear from you.