640, a Poem

by Francois Pageau*

Among the stones, the bones, and other materials that he owns
The Author ponders (probably alone)
Lost in thought
His endeavour fraught
With quizzical frowns:
Azur d’émail? Émail d’Azur? Or Azurite?
Should the copper be soft, or should it bite?
Will the sand be too distempered, too soaked, or, in the end, just right?

From Vert-de-gris, Vermillon, suin de verre,
And other material that he saw
His fellow practitioners, with commendable care
Mix, ally, unite and pair
Create wonders while he observes, in awe.

Is he from Allemaigne?
Is she from Paris?
Is our Author from Angleterre?
Or is this mysterious artisan just a vulgaire

Time and memory faded to black
Many, many molds have cracked
Since our scribe has scribbled and scrubbed his lab
His body long gone under a marble slab
Yet a wondrous cult is now rising

A gaggle of scholars congregating
Over contraptions of metal, pondering and puzzling
Across the pond, from the boutique, conjuring
Secret recipes for Making and Knowing.

*Francois Pageau is a Ph.D candidate in the Dept. of History and Classics at the University of Alberta. He has participated in the paleography workshop all three years that is has been held.