“Christ in Gethsemane” written and translated by Gabriel González Núñez

For the original Spanish, click here.

Christ in Gethsemane

Ekphrastic poem after Carl Bloch’s painting by the same name

I have not enjoyed the privilege
of walking through the halls
of Frederiksborg Castle
of strolling in front of its paintings
of finding astonishment in its art
but I did enjoy the privilege
of trembling
before the pictorial display
that Carl Bloch named Kristus i Gestsemane have
which I cannot pronounce
but I did experience.

The work was transported
from Old Europe
to New America
placed wholly
in a transformed surrounding.
In the museum
it was given its own room
the high altar.
In the museum’s nave
there it awaited
for the arrival
of art parishioners.
There it awaited
for my arrival.

 And he came out
and went
as he was wont
to the mount of Olives.

I arrived without knowing
that there it sat
expecting me.
When I entered into its room
into the nave
time started dragging
moving more and more slowly
until it stopped altogether.
Before the master’s masterpiece
there lay rows of empty chairs.
In that stopping of time
there I sat to gaze in contemplation.

And he was withdrawn from them
about a stone’s cast
and kneeled down
and prayed
and being in an agony
he prayed more earnestly
and his sweat was
as it were great drops of blood
falling down to the ground
and there appeared an angel unto him from heaven
strengthening him.

The painting was
of cosmic proportions.
It was a sea of deep blackness
a pair of abysmal jaws
an engulfing darkness,
and in the center of that hole
a bright and red robe
a bright and white robe
all of it illuminated
as if by large high-intensity beams,
a Man exhausted
worn down
in his clothes of blood and wine,
an Angel saddened
kneeling on a primordial stone
an uncrackable rock
an Angel that caresses the Man’s crown
all in this moment of silence
of unending blackness
by an old, leafless tree.

When he rose up from prayer
and was come to his disciples
he found them sleeping
for sorrow.


The room seems dark
I feel the light of a secret sobbing
of a crimson horror
the colossal weight of an infinite blackness
of a heaven broken into swaying shards
of heavy shadows
like the depths of the ocean.
Behind me someone walks in
and the second hand on the clock retakes its cycle.
I stand up.
I leave the museum.

Since then
I carry the memory
of that enormous blackness
of a blackness that grows year after years
and also
the memory
of the light
which that abyss
of millions upon millions of dead nebulae
cannot find a way to extinguish.