Magazine | March 21, 2011, Issue

Poetry

VERISMO

– Gentile Bellini, Constantinople, 1480

Perhaps this fits in some Vasari-like

Apocrypha? Sultan Mehmet II,

They say, presented by Bellini with

An oil of John the Baptist’s severed head,

Repined: the painting wasn’t true to life –

A blunt critique Bellini hadn’t reckoned

On. So Mehmet ordered up a strike

One hopes was surgical (this may be myth):

A slave’s neck was presented to a knife,

And afterward, the slave was duly dead.

No mention if the great Bellini shook,

Told “this is how a severed head should look.”

Perhaps the captious Sultan meant no menace,

But Bellini soon returned to Venice.

Len Krisak is an American poet. He has taught at Brandeis, Northeastern University, and Stonehill College.

In This Issue

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Poetry

VERISMO – Gentile Bellini, Constantinople, 1480 Perhaps this fits in some Vasari-like Apocrypha? Sultan Mehmet II, They say, presented by Bellini with An oil of John the Baptist’s severed head, Repined: the painting wasn’t true to ...
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