Allegory of Evil in Italy

By Stanley Moss b. 1925 Stanley Moss
The Visconti put you on their flag: a snake   
devouring a child, or are you throwing up a man
feet first? Some snakes hunt frogs, some freedom of will.   
There’s good in you: a man can count years on your skin.   
Generously, you mother and father a stolen boy,   
to the chosen you offer your cake of figs.   
A goiter on my neck, you lick my ear with lies,   
yet I must listen, smile and kiss your cheek   
or you may swallow the child completely. In Milan   
there is a triptych, the throned Virgin in glory,   
placed on the marble below, a dead naked man   
and a giant dead frog of human scale on its back.   
There’s hope! My eyes look into the top of my head   
at the wreath of snakes that sometimes crowns me.

Stanley Moss, “Allegory of Evil in Italy” from A History of Color: New and Collected Poems. Reprinted with the permission of Seven Stories Press,

Source: A History of Color: New and Collected Poems (Seven Stories Press, 2003)

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Poet Stanley Moss b. 1925

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

 Stanley  Moss


Stanley Moss was educated at Trinity College (Connecticut) and Yale University and makes his living as a private art dealer, specializing in Spanish and Italian Old Masters. As a child he visited Europe with his family, and after serving in World War II he taught English in Barcelona and Rome, where he became familiar with the religious and mythical figures that appear in his work.

He is the critically acclaimed author of The . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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