“good news from Ghent”‏

the only thing that rang in my ears ever
about Ghent until contemplating the van
Eyck Altarpiece was Robert Browning‘s
poem about it, “How They Brought the
Good News from Ghent to Aix
“, the
idea, like in his “Pheidippides“, of
dying valiantly for a cause had mightily
impressed me

that cause is incidental, of course,
dependent on the beliefs and situation
of that particular stalwart person

it might make you unforgettable, that
unfettered and irevocable devotion, as
it did for me, for instance, the heroes
of these two poems, such an exalted
mission is an ambition for lots of folks,
very much for a young boy, especially,
such as I was when I read these

Rose Valland rose indeed to the occasion
when it came to saving priceless art before
the onslaught of ruthless Naziism, wherein
the very van Eyck Altarpiece, and also even
Raphael‘s incandescent “Sistine Madonna“,
to my utter horror, from another, and opposite,
corner of Europe, Dresden, could’ve been
forever lost

but the “good news” was in kind returned
to Ghent, eventually, in this fascinating
documentary, “Hitler’s Museum: The Secret
History of Art Theft During World War II”,
part 1, part 2, just click, from its hiding place
in Altaussee, a mountain fortress in Austria

The Adoration of the Lamb” now resides in
its rightful Ghent, even more, after so fraught
a trek, a wonder

also returned to Dresden, incidentally, the
Sistine Madonna“, that city’s own defining

it is to be noted that a task force had been
set up by no less than the Americans to
save the purloined art of Europe in that
however fraught time

this hasn’t been at all the case in their
recent military forays, what do you gain,
I ask, if you lose your ideals, what exactly
do you conquer


psst: Browning‘s “news”, if you’re wondering,
was of the “Pacification of Ghent“, 1576