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Massacre Of The Innocents
Bruegel 1566

Midwinter
Josephus has failed to notice the massacre.
(The persons are few & the result negligible.)
But here - somewhere lost in the scene - Bruegel
is present.
Snow covers the tiles    covers the ground    deadens
the cries    absorbs the blood.

The prophet Jeremy observes:
‘Voices everywhere are heard lamentation & mourning:
Rachel bitterly weeping for her children . . . ’

High in his tree a crow peers from his nest.

The blacksuited commander counts the bodies
( 5 or 6 dead     the rest struggling     about to be dead).

Horses     noticing nothing    paw the ground.
Dogs     excitedly sniffing blood     bark.
Silently the troop
patiently grouped in a block
wait for the end of the hunt    the killing

***

Herod     no longer mocked
(another crow in another tree)
also hopes & waits.

Note

Small killings were frequent & likely to pass unnoticed; but the artist  (looking apparently from a point above them) observes the details vividly.

He sees (& hears with Jeremiah) the mothers begging for the lives of their children & he clearly illustrates the butchery.

He blankets the village in snow, introduces some dogs & aristocratic huntsmen & hunt servants.

He observes a nest in a tree to the right. Herod & the crow are absent, but one can imagine them counting & waiting.