Peter Paul Rubens, 1618 8’0” X 6’10” Philadelphia Museum of Art
Only five, my eyes are fixed on the eagle –
its beak tearing guts and blood
from this naked Titan, sprawled
on rocks, chained at the wrists. Back
and forth from the bloody beak to the giant
talons gripping the poor man’s head,
fear keeps me paralyzed in place.
Compelled to revisit Prometheus
with each family pilgrimage, I wrongly
imagine that this horror will shrink in size
as I grow. But the painting is huge
and hung low, the bird enormous,
large as the man, executing his gory task
in the lower half, smack before your eyes.
Stunned I remain, year after year,
silently pleading to be unchained
from Zeus’ rage, praying for a parent,
a guard, anyone, to do what I cannot –
pry me from my spot, turn me
to the other side of the room
where the solace of angels awaits.
I enjoyed this ekphrastic and physical poem!
a myth of the human condition
Archetypal myth well expressed. Speaks to all of us
I have seen this painting, but never in person. I can truly imagine how horrifying it would be to a five-year-old! And you throw that gory image right at the reader and make us wonder right along with you why there is this riveting fascination.
I’m not commenting on this because it’s Greek per se, but wanted to say I love the choice of metaphor as well as the choice of including the “Peter Paul Rubens . . .” section as though the painting belonged right above the poem.