At the Getty Museum there was an excellent exhibition of ancient bronzes, all stunning. Amongst the athletes and the gods there was this exquisite piece. It ached for a poem.
The Boy With A Thorn
There are not many of them now,
Though vacant plinths abound,
Amongst the great antiquities
Where often they were found,
Depicting famous athletes
Who earned laurels at the games,
Or gods and heros, caesars, kings
With long impressive names.
The artisans who made them
Of copper mixed with tin,
Could flow the molten alloy round
So it was light and thin,
Yet strong enough to bear the weight
Of arms and legs in stride,
And at their best they long remain
The Greco-Roman pride.
Each one a distillation
Of God’s gifts manifest,
Capturing that inspiration-
Firing them to do their best,
Preserving for these ages long,
Should plunderers have missed their mark,
A glimpse of era’s far advance
That would but otherwise be dark.
There he sits, a boy absorbed,
Intent to find the sole-lodged thorn,
Cast in bronze he heeds us not
’Till from his foot the barb is drawn.
Head downward cast his gaze is firm,
Fingers set to pry the spine,
His youthfulness forever caught,
Never dulled with passing time.
Thin their ranks of beauty cast
Despoiled by barbarous lowly eye,
How could they dash and splinter thus
The richest proof of days gone by.
How could the call of cannon or gate
Result in smelting of these forms
Yet this remaining tells so much
And history’s pages thus adorns