Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Snowman

For Andrew

Unable to refuse the Medicis,
His patrons, the young Michelangelo
Trudged through drifts higher than his knees
To build the family a man of snow.

To reassure the Florentines the sky
Above held firm, this white apocalypse
Meant nothing, the new prince felt he must try
Something. Michelangelo kept his

Opinions to himself. They paid him gold.
Torches blazed behind the falling flakes,
Like heretics; in Italy, a cold
French army pounded in their own tent stakes.

The Medicis would be deposed. Next year,
Savanarola would be burning books,
Botticellis, mirrors. More would cheer
When he was burnt at the stake. But it looks

Like nobody had bothered to record
What Michelangelo sculpted that night.
No sketch survives, not a private word
Set down in any diary with delight.


Eshuneutics said...

Hi, there, I love this! It is news to me...knew nothing about the snowman. What is the source? I think this is one of your best poems. Hope 2011 goes well for you.

Shropshirelad said...

Hi Eshu!

I am glad you liked the poem! I learned about this from a recent biography of Michelangelo called "The Young Michelangelo," by John Spike. It was just a peculiar aside mentioned by Michelangelo himself to his first biographer when M. was in his eighties. Nobody knows what kind of snowman he built. M. never said.

Sometimes I think all of the most interesting things in history take place at the margins, just out view...

Eshuneutics said...

Well, we live at the margins and I agree: so much of what the poet transforms exists in the margins of what others reject.