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At the time, the artist mattered little.
Art was a ritual all followed.
Their calling was sacred. Making pictures
by skill of hand brought out to light
things unseen and unseeable, which lie
in the shadow of natural objects,
which, when transformed and fixed by hand
bring into plain sight for all to see,
treasures that exist only as prophecy.
As the poet is free to compose and
to bind together poetic truths,
so the artist may call up in colour
the sight and touch of matters eternal…

The minerals are ground and ground
again to a fine and powdery dust
to be fixed in a paste by adding
the yolk of an egg, preferably small,
from a bantam, with some water
and at times honey or milk. The colours
harden as the paste dries. The ikon
is now complete. The dross dullness
of the stuff of soil is transformed
into a new and sacred form and space,
reaching out to touch eternity,
to show the divine in solid earth.
The ikon opens a window to eternity.

Michael Lee

'Ikon' is an extract from a 41 page prose poem Pilgrim's Companion, a study of art, faith and myth with which Michael Lee celebrated his 75th birthday. Copies are available from him via 'Poems in the Waiting Room' PO Box 488, Richmond TW9 4SW, or e-mail