Byzantine Mosaic Fragment with Leopard




Perhaps the artist intuited

what modern science knows:

the whole animal comprising

its molecular parts.


The composition, elliptical

in the geometrical sense,

ovals overlapping,

suggests also the grammatical

sense of economy, only

the relevant, the essential,

no excess.


Poetically elliptical as well:

the leopard figure sinewy,

powerful, strung tightly

for potential urgent action,

on a larger and more

dangerous scale like a

housecat springing

from lap pet to rabbit killer

faster than human or rabbit

can react.


A nature poem compressed

to maximum potency,

the vital colored stones

urged together

in mosaic.


Note: Byzantine Mosaic Fragment with Leopard is in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper


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