by Roy Beckemeyer
Oh, and the blue sage is in bloom today,
Salvia azurea scattered across the prairie
Like shards of sky,
The petals the color
Pachelbel’s Canon would be
If you could see music with your eyes.
I noticed that its flowers have the same blue glow
That Rublev used for the cloaks
Of the three wanderers in his Trinity icon.
Remember when we saw it in the Tretyakov Gallery?
He painted it 600 years ago
With pigment ground from lapis lazuli
From the Kokcha Valley,
And you said that he had captured
The blue of an Archangel’s eyes in those cloaks.
Can you picture how his icon must have stood out
Like a blue beacon against the towering gold and red
Iconostasis of the Trinity Monastery?
The blue beacons of sage are angels today, blessing
These wide tawny fields of gold-leafed Indian grass
With their singularly azure essence of blue.
~Roy Beckemeyer, 2011, revised 2023.
My wife, Pat, and I were fortunate to see this icon on our visit to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. It had resided there from the 1918-9 restoration, which first revealed something of the artistry of Rublev’s original work, until July 2022, when it was returned to the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, where it had originally resided. On previous returns of the icon to that monastery, exposure to the uncontrolled humidity and temperature and to the candle smoke and incense had caused the icon to deteriorate. It has apparently been returned to the Tretyakov, but there may have been some deterioration and it may not be available for viewing for some time.
This photo is from the Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses website,
and shows blue sage in a grassy landscape in Saline County, KS.