By Arthur Feinsod
From whence did you come, Caravaggio?
Exacting beauty from criminal nights,
You showed us how piercing
Bright light could shine
From ever-deepening blackness.
Haunted, hunted and bewildered,
You fled, you hid, you murdered.
But this did not deter the Bible
From looking for you.
It found you and calmed you,
Folding her long maternal arms about you.
You have our utmost gratitude, Caravaggio.
You taught the centuries that followed
That Jesus was no less Jesus
For having dirty feet.
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This poem, which has already advanced to the semi-final round of Poetry Nation\'s National Amateur Poetry competition, is based on the life and painting of the Italian Baroque painter Michelangelo Caravaggio, my favorite painter. While many of his paintings have moved me deeply, this poem came directly from my first viewing of \"The Entombment of Christ\" (1601-1603), in which I marveled not only at Caravaggio\'s powerful contrast of extreme dark and light, but also his crucified Jesus with dirty feet. Those two traits seemed to go together well