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Henry Chapman, “Spiral of Justice” (2018), graphite and inkjet ink on paper, 11 x 8.5 inches (courtesy of the artist)

The poem, ‘Spiral of Justice,’ or ‘Gerechtigkeitsspirale’ in its original German, was carved by Erhart Falckener onto a church pew in Hesse in 1510. The words are punctuated by red diamonds and surrounded by thistle and acanthus. I found an image of the pew while researching examples of shaped poetry. Reading the English translation is like reading the news: ‘Justice suffers in great need/Truth is slain dead […] Faleshood is of high birth.’

The poem:

Justice suffers in great need.
Truth is beaten to death.
Faith has lost the argument.
Falsehood is of high birth.
That angers God the Lord.
O man, let go
That you may not always be lost.
Praise justice.

(Adapted from English translations provided by Wikipedia)

Henry Chapman

Henry Chapman is an artist from New York currently living in Los Angeles. You can find more about him at