Monday 28 October 2013



What is it about a face
Never seen or met
But whose image
Stays in the mind?
The painter saw him
And now I see him
Centuries later,
but I'm caught.
The painter can't have lied
About his look: it's not grand
Or status laden,
He gazes from the picture
With a humble humanity.
He is pained:
Either he or
The world is in trouble
And his sorrow for it
 Can be read
In crumpled brows
And patient eyes.
I’d like to talk with this man.

When we die, we leave
Little behind beyond family,
Memories and goods perhaps:
All transitory traces.
The title of the painting
Tags him as ‘robusto’ –
A poor testimonial.
It is not his size which captures attention.
To be known for an expression
And of compassion particularly,
is a truer memorial:
A legacy given to us
By a man and his painter
Whose souls met
And touched.

The painting is thought to be of Robert de Masmines c 1425
by Robert Campin. It is titled Retrato de un hombre robusto

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