Michelangelo, Unfinished Bound Slave (1519-36)
Marble, height 208 cm
Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence


Unfinished Bound Slave 


by Beth Houston





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Michelangelo, c. 1519

Reduction of the given mass creates
A sculpture’s final form: This incomplete
Emerging torso bears its wrestled weight’s
Chaotic, unshaped mind; no freed, discrete
Or fully human body’s bulk evolves
Or comes alive. His feet abort, still sunk
Deep in the primal soup, each leg dissolves,
The penis just extends the uncarved hunk
Of rock. The flexed position’s torque suggests
There’s movement, but its energy stops, stuck
In stasis. Here a fallen angel rests,
Manifests: Sisyphus cursing his luck,
Slave to his truth, extinguished fire his own
Work in its vise, grasped in a hand of stone.

 Jupiter and Io


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