"She is a dark / scared girl in dusty djellabah and veil, / with dirty feet," says a poem by Lynn Roberts called "Icon". It forms part of a short sequence, Rosa Mundi, with illustrations by the author (InVerse, £4.50). Last year five of the poems attracted attention when they were published in The Tablet.
In this poem, the author does not intend to demean Mary, but to rescue her from a kind of unreality lent by historic conventions of high art. Indeed the poem delineates her in part by things she is not, though these are interesting in themselves. It begins "She's not a painting by Crivelli, / no slant-eyed blonde in Florentine brocade." This made me look again at Carlo Crivelli's paintings. There are a good number in the National Gallery in London, and these are easy to examine online.
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