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31 Oct 2014

John Fuller, The Dice Cup: The Sculptor

dice cupOur Friday poem is taken from John Fuller's The Dice Cup

'In the dice cup, then, life becomes not a design but a wager; not an adventure but a game…’

Brimming with brio and brilliance, John Fuller’s latest collection comprises exquisite philosophical arguments, dream visions, aphorisms, precise portraits, colourful fables and tableaux of life. But here too lie shadows: in departures and deteriorations, in a life balanced delicately between the known and the unknown.

The Sculptor

Musêe Rodin

The shoreline’s million shapes are his greatest rival’s studio, but none of these extraordinary works is finished.

The smallest sculpture is a law of physics; the largest is nothing less than the universe itself.

The weakness of the mountain: the unconnected surface. The strength of the pebble: shoulders flexing against the sac.

When the stones were first replanted, they turned into warriors.

The jade silkworm spins a garment for the soul.

Simplicity is at the service of magic.

Stillness is an illusion: even a limbless torso can be seen to be marching.

The bronze horseman rides into the public square. Far from being perfect, the sphere is now another form of chaos.

The eyes are blind, the sex broken, but the body lives as it has never lived, in the eternity of its shape.

For abject worship, a niche; for sceptical appraisal, a pedestal; for oblivion, a museum postcard.

The body is restless, searching for the perfect posture that always eludes it.

The swell of the buttock blinds us to the shame of the anus.

Admiring the spine, we forget the amusement in the face.

The fragility of the ankle, the arrogance of the wrist, the invitation of the hip.

The neck is the articulated engine of our curiosity.

When the knees tauten, we are closest to the earth.

In the one place where the significant darkness cannot be created by shape and shadow, the pupils of the eyes are excavated.

He never walks behind his sculptures. For him, the distinction between front and back cannot exist, yet he despairs because he cannot gaze in two directions at once.

The strength of the hammer; the lightness of the chisel.

The block is a cage to be opened and the form to be released. The marble flies like feathers.

The chiselling is a devouring. The remains are flecked in his beard.

Marble is in love with skin, as skin is in love with light.

The surface of the painter is a culpable deceit.

To exchange colour for touch and the infinite change of shadow. And then to reclaim colour.

The birth of Venus, the adoration of Psyche, the punishment of Francesca: myth is a licence to examine the extended female form.

The mouths of the Sirens are open in eternal song that only he can hear.

Juliet embraces the rock that Romeo is escaping from; their swoon is a yielding to its weight.

The women are doomed not for their love for each other, but because they are looking at us: the one is excited by the other’s knee, whose own haunches are, however, offered to us.

His figures always crouch, whether in shrunken terror or in furtive delight; this is because he works from square blocks of marble.

From the front, spread legs, a shameless curiosity; from the back, hunched shoulders, a penitential vulnerability.

The mind’s ostentations (hats, furs, jokes) are beyond his skill to represent. This disturbs the visitors to his studio.

The face is a mask at an angle of ecstasy or self-admiration.

The infinite drama of space: what was confined is liberated; the finite drama of time: the nose of Icarus a split second before the marble splashes.

Everything that is given is finally to be taken away, firstly movement, lastly light.

In the winter garden, the snow on shoulders is heavier than their bronze.