Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Holy Ghost broods

Since the birth of the chicks, the posture of the sitting parent has changed. They are slightly taller. Now it is as if she/he is half-standing and the wings have slipped down to compensate. They are like curtains between the chicks and the world - all warmth within but steel without.
It reminded me of the last 3 lines of Gerard Manley Hopkins sonnet God's Grandeur:

Oh, morning at the brown brink eastward springs -
because the Holy Ghost over the bent
world broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
Even if the image in the poem suggests that it is eggs (or an egg) brooded over rather than chicks. And even if the Holy Ghost is usually represented by a dove or pigeon - in other words, what will soon be food for the little dears.

And to see the pose from the front (which I couldn't capture this evening - I think it's the male and he's a bad sitter) reminds me of another famous image: The Madonna of Mercy by Piero della Francesca.

I remember when I first saw it, I thought it was a wonderful composition because of the volume created by that cloak, but surely out of sync with the new humanism, what with the different scales of the figures as in some pharaonic tomb mural. And yet what a simple and obvious way to represent relative spiritual stature and also the warmth of the protection worshippers felt with the Madonna - so far from her ancestor, the homophagous Earth Mother. She is grand like the peregrine falcon and solemn, and will feed her chicks with hope.

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