by Billy Collins
It has a bronze covering inlaid with silver,
the sides are decorated with openwork zoomorphic
panels depicting events in the history
of an unknown religion.
The convoluted top-piece shows a high
level of relief articulation
as do the interworked spirals at the edges.
It was presumably carried in the house-shaped
reliquary alongside it, an object of exceptional
ornament, one of the few such pieces extant.
The handle, worn smooth, indicates its use
in long-forgotten rituals, perhaps
of a sacrificial nature.
It is engirdled with an inventive example
of gold interlacing, no doubt of Celtic influence.
Previously thought to be a pre-Carolingian work,
it is now considered to be of more recent provenance,
probably the early 1940s.
The ball at the center, visible
through the interstices of the lead webbing
and the elaborate copper grillwork,
is composed possible of jelly
or an early version of water,
certainly a liquid, remarkably suspended
within the intricate craftmanship of its encasement.
Here's a version you can download: