Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

In the Cleveland Museum of Art

In the din of ages so quiet only the squeak of charcoal sneakers and the stentorian tutelage of living masses obtrude”goddess with a breast exposed, Mary drawing blood from fingers brushing thorns” overhead the tapestry of knights and days” in glass enclosed, breastplates, armor . . . The old and the young contemplate themselves distractedly”why this and this”not something else?”why this standing for man; preserved” why does this speak to who I am? Only the rich of course had these things, no? The poor had nothing like this in their homes, the earnest middle-ager asks. (The art of the poor was staying alive; their lives enriched by viewing their betters’ legacies, now, the wiseacre guide replies, wisely.) Crossbows; helmets; chainmail. “Laban searching for his household idols” . . . Filipino and Chinese, black schoolchildren and matrons, each one finger of a hand reaching back to the center of the earth floating through the heavens.