Bellini's Holy Allegory, in the Uffizi

Bellini’s Holy Allegory, in the Uffizi

The snake and mirror, cherubim who lean
Upon a sapling planted in a pot,
A scrawny Pisan wolf, a complex scene
Relying on preknowledge of what’s what.
A lily, pomegranate, centaur, rose,
The instruments of martyrdom, a fish,
A unicorn, a scythe, a complex pose
That tangles meaning into what you wish.
But oh the joy to recognise that snake,
And seek out sisters elsewhere on the wall!
But careful with truth’s lamp, lest Cupid wake
A snake might choose to represent a fall.
Decipher symbols, tease the meanings out,
And learn to love the lineaments of doubt.

Florence/Montreal September-November 2014