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On Caravaggio's Conversion of St. Paul (1600)

Summer 2013 - Vol. 55, No. 3


This poem appears in the Summer 2013 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe now, go here.


in Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome

nec spe, nec metu
For Thom Gunn

Darkness and light define here one another.
Not Saul, nor yet St. Paul, he sprawls between—
Eyes shut, arms open, feeling but not yet seeing,
Wanting but not yet having what may follow.
Ambiguous interval. Here one might linger,
Not fearing and not hoping—would it stay!
But time and death are real. Light wanes or grows
To an extreme. You knew and raged. And hoped—
Painting as saints the sinners Christ loved best.


Permission to reprint Helen Pinkerton’s poems granted by Ohio University Press and Swallow Press, to whom we are grateful.