Alan Ross: Antwerp


Alan John Ross, (6 May 1922 – 14 February 2001)
Rubens, De Vos, Memling – room after room,
Of crusted and silent flesh, luxuriantly
Spread under cavaliers and Christs, under eyes
Of students scrutinizing the texture of tombs;
And the pearled light and saintly images
Create their own quiet, a residue free from surprise,
Away from the glitter and moan of the port.

But people, like the air, are wafer-thin;
Around them the weight of their curbed
Desires, their instinctive defeat when faced
With the unknown challenge-kisses are barbed
For the pledged majority, (ugliness tighter and tighter laced)
It is all unsubstantial, unsensuous, this outside world
Where happiness so rarely conforms to desire, and
All real passion is compressed to a miniature
Area of paint, a poem, where, alone, we grow to our true stature.

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