The figure standing and raising a sword
between Babylon and the return
to Jerusalem was St. Michael,
protector of Abraham’s people;
Justice; Michael, field commander
of the army of “the one true God.”
In 1909, New York City
commissioned Frederick MacMonnies,
one of America’s most prominent
sculptors, to design a fountain
for the entry park of City Hall.
A monumental statue
was to rise heroically from
the center of a great stone basin.
It was to be the grandest ever
sculpted by an American;
to be carved from the largest
single block of marble hewn
since the days of Michaelangelo.
Many were disappointed
when CIVIC VIRTUE victoriously
rising over corruption actually
emerged as a stocky, naked
man with a sword cocked
over one of his marble shoulders.
He appears to have extricated
himself from the archaic clutches
of two wily sirens. Granted
venereal disease is a historic
urban hygiene issue. In 1941,
the much maligned monument
––so carefully carved
by the Piccirilli Brothers
(Feirrucio, Attilio, Furio,
Orazio, Masanielo, and Getulio)
of the Bronx––was banished
to Kew Gardens, Queens.
Recently, there have been
heated arguments as to whether
or not the neglected
monument should be lifted
from its odd destiny of disrepair.