Friday, 5 April 2013

Pompeii! Herculaneum!

I begin, not with the bodies,
those casts of empty spaces
where people died agonising deaths
but with the faces of people who lived.

Here are silver drinking vessels
for entertaining their friends.

Here are practical kitchen utensils
for cooking for their families.

(including a sieve
for straining rice
as MrM kindly pointed out)

Here are perfume bottles
made to appeal to the eye.

Here are exquisite marble panels
capturing the beauty of the human body.

Pompeii is now remembered for death
but it was a place for the living
where people drank wine,
and sang and danced.

This exhibition celebrates that life,
with a remarkable collection of artefacts
It was a great privilege to have permission
to take photographs at the opening event.

I stood looking at the magpie for a while,
the fresco colours are bright and fresh
and it was not difficult to imagine
the cheerful raucous call of the magpie
that sits on the cherry tree in our garden
sounding over the houses of Pompeii.

Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum
at the British Museum until 29 September
sponsored by Goldman Sachs


  1. Isn't it stunning? I loved the garden fresco. And that lovely figure of the little boy perched on a dolphin. I'm sure the artist must have modelled him on a real child.

  2. Well captured, and written, I must say.

  3. oh. a magpie, too.

  4. Perfectly done, thank you.

  5. Years ago, I remember seeing all those casts of the bodies in National Geographic and quickly turning the pages - it was just too painful to see. Now, whenever I hear a reference to Pompeii, I will know that these people did indeed live. Thank you for sharing your gentle words and beautiful photographs.

  6. We have such treasures in Italy, sadly they're not handled at their best. But this is a long story.
    Let's enjoy these gorgeous frames that you were kind enough to share.


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