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Lay for the Day
21st December

The anniversary of the birth of the painter Masaccio, who ushered in the great period of the Quattrocento in Italy. He died in 1428, at the age of 26, but he’d already changed the course of European painting and helped to make his native republic pre-eminent as a place of art.
From the book of Praises:

56. Of Florence

Snail-like city, self-contained,
river gliding at the foot of deep,
long streets that, curved like
rays by gravity, arrive
in squares where spacious arches
triumph, but decorously;
which light calls home; the spiral’s
core the Duomo, coloured in
the key of earth-tones – marl-grey,
green, cream and terracotta.

From the hilltop piazza,
San Miniato al Monte,
it shows as Aristotle
made requisite for beauty –
whole, apprehended as one;
though the outbound train reveals
the naff daily hinterland,
cash-and-carry blocks of flats, l
ittle trees wreathed with plastic
from the Arno’s winter floods.

Whoever saw of London
the entirety? The clay
bowl’s pointed with domes and spires
dissolved in fumes at the base
and fume-like jumble of roofs.
But once on the homeward night-
flight, the wing dipped, the strew of
lights, like fibres of a sea-
form, bespoke integrity,
consonance and clarity.


John Gibbens
from Collected Poems


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar