The Frick

Poem by Frederick Feirstein

Overwhelmed by beauty I weep for life
Now that I’m frail, now that I have been sick.
I stroll past Titians, Bellinis with my wife
Into the great long chambers of the Frick

 

Where huge Turners and Whistlers are lit
As if their lifetimes still exist, their ships
Sunsets, gowns, shadows, counterfeit smiles
Bespeak seduction from long vanished lips,

 

Like Vermeer’s Lady who now makes me weep,
As do Rembrandt’s characters in theatrical dress;
Even his Polish Rider now long asleep
And the model for the soldier by Velázquez.

 

Life, life in Frick’s artificial garden,
Where lovers lounge in well-protected planes.
Here Frick at night would wander, stricken
By his daughter’s death; only art could keep him sane.

 

And so his wealth and generous collection
Were like two pockets filled with gold
Coins he could rattle like recollections
Of life—which in his helpless grasp were simply old.