January 28, 2023

A Cabinet of Ancient Figurines in the Ashmolean Museum

A Cabinet of Ancient Figurines in the Ashmolean Museum

Who, with an eye for similarity,

artistically displayed these side-by-side?

Divorcing individuality

from form, as if their meaning were alike.

What of their ancient makers long since past,

shaping clay, stone and bone into themselves?

‘With startling skill’! We sigh before the glass

a moment, quickly glancing at the shelves.

From deserts dry to clammy caves are found

curious creatures, images of us,

yet not us, but we take them for our own

and call them ‘art,’ to be admired thus.

The figurines stand silently and watch

the visitors pass by them in a rush.

About the Author

Victoria Clayton

I write narrative nonfiction, essay and poetry on a range of subjects: archaeology, travel, history, thinking about the past, ancient figurines, what makes a well-lived life?

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