Beckett: Poetry – No. 1726, The Alabaster Anointing

This poem is an ekphrasis on the painting “Mary Magdalene Anointing Christ’s Feet in the House of Simon the Pharisee” by Artus Wolffort (1581-1641), based on Luke 7:36-50.

Mary Magdalene Anointing Christ’s Feet in the House of Simon the Pharisee by Artus Wolffort (1581-1641).
Behold this lowly woman, —
a sinner of grave sins, —
who dares enter the Pharisee's home
and washes Christ's feet with her hair.

Expensive perfume soaks into
her hair and His feet,
its fragrance swimming
throughout the whole house.

Men look down upon her
with derision and apathy;
and Simon the Pharisee scolds Jesus
for letting a sinner touch Him.

Yet Christ lifts His hand to bless her,
"Your sins are forgiven. Your faith
has saved you; go in peace,"
and her sins were no more.

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