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Deflected Eyes

    Portrait of Sir Thomas Wyatt by Hans Holbein I’ve always found this drawing haunting.  Holbein used only chalks, pen and ink, with minimal work on everything except the face, especially the eyes.  Probably drawn between 1535 and 1537, it has astonishing vitality: I feel an immediacy, as if he were – or is – contemporaneous, and that it is me rather than Holbein, who faces him.   And as I watched I saw his eyes look past, past me, into the past – or was it yet to come about?  That glance will now outlast the face so soon to go.  We have not met but still askance he looks. Unblinking gaze, eye-witness of grave acts beyond my view I cannot see, nor find the words or phrase to tell.  His face is blank.  I must look through to see the man whose features show no signs of feelings – sadness, joy, relief or fear –  just cautious observation.  Through the lines the artist drew, his face and I draw near. The mouth and nose and beard I scrutinise, but first and last, I see deflected e

A Post Mortem Adventure

  Even at the best of times, this is a dying season – I mean a season for dying. Throw in Covid, which puts daily death rates into the regular news headlines, not to mention the fear of death propagated by a government to produce behavioural change – stay at home and keep clear of others so you don't kill your Gran – and death is presently looming large. More positively though, admiration for the NHS, with all its committed professionals, has never been more apparent. Death all around, with dedicated doctors desperately working to save lives... We go back to the Battle of Trafalgar, back to William Beatty, Surgeon on HMS Victory. Here he is, portrayed by Devis, not long after the battle - a clear-eyed, confident but humane young man in his thirties. The surgeon triaged each wounded man in turn, regardless of rank, as they were brought below decks. There were three categories: not needing immediate care, so leave; sufficiently seriously wounded, with the possibility of survival,

The Three Hares

  The Three Hares We continue on our way running, running, running around held together tip to tip so I can hear what she can hear as well as her. And the other follows me in front of her – we are joined up by our ears so we follow, lead and follow running, running, running around we continue on our way. Running, running, running around – no cause for worry – what's to come has already been. The future's past – watch us here – we're going nowhere – the last is first and first is last. Our present moment sees us still although we seem to race – running, running, running around we continue. On our way running, running, running around hearing your persistent questions – why do you keep on asking? We cannot tell you any more. May you share your senses and find soft silence at your centre which is so close, while you go on running, running, running around. The turning of the year, with the various thoughts about the past and the future that c