Gold Teeth and Crucifixes

A poem exploring the contradiction between Frederico, the Duke of Urbino, as benign patron of the arts and his day-job as a ruthless mercenary.

Image Credit: 
Piero della Francesca / Public Domain

After Piero della Francesca’s ‘Flagellation of Christ’ c1445/1450


Splashing the hills around Urbino
with vibrant yellow, early Spring Genista
perfumes too the wandering pathways
where, in that long ago,

poets, painters and philosophers
strolled arm in arm with their learned host
Federico Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino.
And each hill boasts also its splash

of blood-red poppies, unwitting reminders
of mercenaries steeped in gore
and crucifixes wrought from the golden teeth of the slain.
Everywhere the nightmare of perfect beauty:

ideal worlds where the flagellated
writhe comfortably within the scheme of things,
and gorgeous lackeys discuss perspective
in courtyards of terrifying perfection.

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Brighton-based Irish poet Tony Frisby performs in Thanet and has been published by Waterloo Press.

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