"How long does a poem have to be? Ralph Waldo Emerson
said that every word was once a poem. I havenít read too many one-word
poems lately, but several possibilities spring immediately to mind:
Rose; Substance; Trolley; Hearth; Parting; Precipice. At the same
time, there are words that might have started out as poems, but
that now grate upon the ear, such as: Election; Referendum; Property;
Focus. What it boils down to, I think, is that every word is a poem
when it passes through a childís lips, and every word becomes, to
some degree, a weapon or prison in the mind of an adult." William
Man Weighing Gold, ca. 1515Ė20 Adriaen
Isenbrant (act. by 1510, d. 1551) Oil on wood The Friedsam Collection,
Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931; 32.100.36
The act of weighing gold has consistently
caught the attention of artists. Among the earliest portraits of
a sitter shown engaged in his profession, this picture by Adriaen
Isenbrant provides an interesting comparison with Christusís Goldsmith
in His Shop, Possibly Saint Eligius. The sitter may have been a
banker, a money changer, or one of the many sixteenth-century merchants
who handled both commodities and money. His thoughtful expression
suggests that the act of weighing gold coins has a symbolic as well
as a literal significance here and perhaps alludes to the weighing
of souls by Saint Michael on Judgment Day.
Woman Weighing Gold by Johannes (Jan)
builds on the ritual ceremony of Ancient
Egypt. The woman in this painting treats the ceremony with reverence
similar to Anubis
For the Ancient Egyptians the "afterlife"
was a very important concept. Once a person died there were a number
of steps that needed to be taken to ensure their continued existence.
Mythologically the deceased person came before the god Osiris and
denied having committed any offenses in their lifetime. The most
famous and telling trial was the weighing of the heart. In this
ceremony the feather of Ma'at, the goddess of truth, was weighed
against the heart of the deceased. If the heart was not heavier
than the feather the person was able to continue on into their afterlife,
however if, because of sins, the heart was heavier than the feather,
the soul of the person was devoured by a chimeric amalgam of hippopotamus,
crocodile and lion.
Anubis was the Patron of Embalming. He
was also the Keeper of Poisons and Medicines. He provided unguents
and rare herbs to help Isis and Nephthys with the embalming of Osiris.
Anubis, then performed the funeral of Osiris, which would be the
model for all funerals to come. As he received the mummy into the
tomb, he performed the "Opening of the Mouth" ceremony. In the "Hall
of Maat", Anubis appears on behalf of the diseased. It was Anubis
who saw that the beam of the great scale was in the proper position
as he supervised the weighing of the heart of a deceased person
against the "Feather of Maat." The God of Knowledge, Thoth, records
the results. It is also Anubis that protects the dead from Ammut,
What if the act of weighing words took
on the same importance as weighing gold? What if, instead of measuring
the heart against a feather you measured the heart against the weight
of words uttered during this ceremeony?
Fever, by William Michaelian, Michaelian explores the notion
of weighing words.
Meditate upon the weight of your words
and write a piece that is heavier than the heart and assures immortality.
Fever by William Michaelian
The Heart by Alexandra Roman
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