In Seamus Cashman’s poem The Sistine Gaze: I too begin with scaffolding, the poet’s gaze is mirrored in responses of the Ceiling and Last Judgement Wall frescoes — received via ‘voices’ of the muse and of the painter, Michelangelo. The conversation is a meditation which confronts and contemplates thought and idea in a spiral of image and metaphor.
The poem’s ‘gaze’ focuses melodically through the creative process, mythologies, the god, the ungodly, and corporealities, through its thirty-one ‘Movements’. It rides high – indeed luxuriates – on the riches of Michelangelo’s great masterpieces. It faces personal doubt as issues of human certainty and the artist at work become its central strands. Death, transcendence and subjection to social realities inform the work’s wave-like spiralling as it unwinds through the magnificence of the human body to encounters with destiny.
Cork born Seamus Cashman is the founder of one of Ireland’s leading literary and cultural publishing houses, Wolfhound Press. Previous poetry collections are: Carnival and Clowns & Acrobats. He edited two landmark anthologies for young readers, The Wolfhound Book of Irish Poems for Young People (1975) still in print, and Something Beginning with P: new poems from Irish poets (2004).