Simone Cantarini, Rest on the flight into Egypt, ca. 1640 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)


Not through the high, the blank, the bronze-knobbed door
He comes home, weaned. What is the child,
Compared to everything that came before?

He’ll guard these sunny reaches when he’s more
Than a bare twentieth their age.
Today, his romps would gouge the floor.

In gilded frames is forebears by the score,
Like fools, wait for the wisdom of his eyes.
He now stares at the fountain. We deplore

His sheer, strange littleness
Compared to everything that came before.

Published in the August 9, 2019 issue: View Contents

Sarah Ruden has published several books, including, most recently, The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible and a new translation of Augustine’s Confessions.

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