Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Affici amoris ergo

Nicholas Hilliard, "Man Clasping a Hand from a Cloud,"
1588, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Some scholars think the golden letters call forth the Attic,
a reading that brings a mythic past to the bauble’s present,
but this viewer prefers to misread the “t” as “f” and make
Affici not Attici the first word at hand. After all, why would
Hilliard (or his sitter) break the miniature’s lovers’ Latin with
a Greek conceit? A jewel, this limning, a puzzle-poem that
hints at a celestial love secreted by clouds and cropping—
pledged hands not hidden, but clasped within the frame.

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