St Mark's Body Brought to Venice

A Poem About A Painting With The Same Name

Some time ago, in Alexandria, a man named Mark
Preached word about this Jesus guy; they dragged him through the park.
A rope around his neck was all he had, his clothes were gone;
They pulled his naked self behind a camel o'er the lawn
Until at last he died his death at all those pagans' hands;
So much, I guess, for getting through to Alexandrians.

Venetian merchants picked him up to bring him back to Venice
Just as the orange sky began to roil with cloud and menace.
Away, away the pagans ran and rode to beat the rain,
Perhaps disown the history of Mark's relief from pain,
And from their marble structures peer as th' merchants pulled their man
Like so much soggy carpet, with their arms as his sedan.

A moment, quick and violet, lightning tears the salmon sky,
Lights up the buildings, casting deathly shadows on the guys
And knocking some remaining murderers onto their backs,
Who pull at rope and fabric trying to counter the attack;
Lights up the slipping body of the man whose house had just
Been visited by Jesus after his own death unjust;

Lights up the Grecian monks who spirit Mark along with th' merchants,
The tail of the recession, bearing th' pall with bodies urgent,
Before the camel, turncoat, follows all to leave the court,
Its misery completed, now its balks at the report
Of th' lightning, lightening all, revealing what the world had done
To Mark, to what he stood for; worldly clouds that blot the sun.


The artist who painted that picture was named Tintoretto. I can usually remember that because he painted a lot of stuff that goes diagonally across the canvas like a torrent of color, or tints. Whatever helps, right?

I don’t actually know much about this painting. I know the dead guy is Mark, and the bearded guy next to the camel is Tintoretto himself. I doubt that’s actually the camel that dragged Mark to death, but it’s funny to me to imagine that it is. Like, get out of here, camel. Haven’t you done enough?

Anyway, thanks for reading. If you want to drop me a note or just say hi you can reply to this email; I get all the replies.

This is Phil.