Thursday, March 27, 2014

Christine de Pizan: Subtlety

Christine de Pizan, 1370 AD

A dead bird
should not have a magnificent tail
the carver delivers the subtlety
and there he is,
the peacock,
but wearing the clothes he wore
when he was trying
to impress the hens.
I turn away,
take only a small bite
from the tray.
A bite that I hide
under greens
that flip their
curly edges into the air.
Do they mock me?

Do I imagine that
cry from the garden?
The peahens,
screaming in their women’s voices,
as if they know
their mate
dances his final dance,
plumage unfurled
before the king.

Medieval feasts were grand occasions, not simple meals that people ate before they entertained themselves. The feasts themselves were the entertainments, ways to pass the hours after dark in winter or to pass long days when the cold meant there was no work to be done. Guests followed elaborate rituals and up to twenty courses were served. Sometimes between each course and sometimes after specific courses, the cooks would bring out a subtlety, a wondrous, edible object for the enjoyment of all those who were feasting. Spun sugar sculptures were popular, and so were cooked meats that had been carefully reassembled to resemble their living forms.

from Christine de Pizan: A Portrait in Poems

No comments:

Post a Comment