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On Viewing the Crucifixion by El Greco

in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Let someone paint a non-ethereal Christ,

A man in sweat upon the cross

With blood drying on his hands and face

And fear in his eyes 

In that moment when he cried out alone.

Let someone paint the moment 

When the fear of pain became pain itself

Before it was accepted and endured;

That moment when death still seemed

An eternity away.


Show me not the proud god

Reclining gracefully on the cross; 

Rather the naked man 

Hanging in distorted agony 

From hands torn raged by the nails.

A sallow, crumpled Christ

Covered in sweat-soaked dirt from the road,

Facing the final temptation of despair

When the human was all too real

And the god too difficult an idea

To be believed.

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