Renaissance Man

A Tribute to Leonardo da Vinci

Born on a Saturday, third hour of night
With Tuscan hills bathed in the star spangled light
Ser Piero’s great pride and Vinci’s great joy
He was Chaterina’s illegitimate boy

At sixteen, he followed the Arno’s swift flow
And joined as apprentice to Verrocchio
To learn to perfect the painter’s high trade
Of capturing light and harnessing shade

He started by painting a tranquil glade scene,
Then the Madonnas and the pose of Benci,
The Magi adored, the penitent Saint –
All brought back to life on his canvass with paint

At thirty he travelled to the city Milano
An envoy in chief for the ruler Lorenzo
He was sent to the court of his patron il Moro
To give him a glimpse through the veil of tomorrow

In a letter, he made his offer prodigious –
From building of weapons to laying of bridges
Even a lyre from a horse-skull and strings –
In his words: “An infinite variety of things”

For seventeen years he stayed in that quarter
Designing new ways to regulate water
While filling his days with Paragone theses
Of legends and myths and fantasy species

At Paradise Feast, the heavens displayed
With magical motion effects that he made;
And a three-tier city was part of his plan,
As was his great wheel of Vetruvius man

He pictured the Virgin on bleak rocky shore
And captured an artist with his music score,
Then Cecelia posing with snow-white ermine,
Before re-enacting the last supper scene

His equine colossus was sculpted from clay
His Platonic drawings on published display
His thoughts and ideas in codexes bound
His paintings commissioned to bless holy ground

From Mantua to Venice, from Florence to Rome
Montefeltro to Paris – all made them his home;
From Leo the Tenth to Louis the First –
They all were enchanted by his great mental thirst

As architect, engineer, artist and sage
Biologist, scientist ahead of his age
Inventor of unbelievable things
An unsurpassed genius, this legend of wings

He towers above the landscape of time
With brilliant ideas and visions sublime
Still no one can fathom the depths of his guile
Or unlock the secret of Mona’s half smile

And even though five hundred years have gone by
He calls us to stretch out our mind-wings and fly
To join in the journey that he once began
And walk in the steps of the Renaissance Man

Wayne Visser © 2017


Life in Transit: Favourite Travel & Tribute Poems

This creative collection, now in its 2nd edition, brings together travel and tribute poems by Wayne Visser. The anthology pays tribute to the likes of Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, Barack Obama, Antoni Gaudí & Leonardo da Vinci, and reflects on travels ranging from China and South Africa to Ecuador and Russia. Life is lived in the in-between / In transit / Between coming and going / Between staying and moving on / Between here and there / And what we call home / What we call settled or contented / Is merely a resting place / A station for refuelling / A nexus for reconnecting / A junction for changing direction. Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.