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Ode to the Painters of Knossos

17 February 2010

O golden youth, you stood thereon, watching
As headlong the great, graceful, deadly beast
Rushed upon you with clamorous charging
And you stood, unmovable, in his path;
Grasping the horned avatar of the god
You strove, manfully, against his power–
Leaping artfully over as the beast lowered in nod
Before goring your naked abdomen.
Golden youth, you were too quick to die
Dancing beautifully o’er the beast’s haunches
As you flew, so acrobatically high,
Into the arms of the firm-fleshed warriors.

Youth transfixed, youth fixed immutable
As slow, subtle age gazes on for a few moments more
Considering your moment of triumphant glory
Where all the painted men and maidens then adored
Your physical primacy; but then the pains of memory
Return, and though my heart might yearn for those shores
Of old Minos, heart of the Aegean, and the palaces of Knossos
And Malia, that desire cannot afford to be at the fore
Of my life. You, fair, marvelous, golden, beautiful youth,
Are no more to me than a representation of that bountiful before,
And your exploits–though heroically painted–are naught to me
But the promise of death, with or without renown.

And the seashells and cockles smashed for the dyes used to paint
This livid creation, this gorgeous expression of feats of ordeal,
Return in some form to the salt-bitter sea of their first nurturing
While we, modern and art-conscious, find the images quaint

But worthy of less consideration as expressions of Beauty
Than of study for social implications; I, in my modern desperation,
Look to the figures painted on your ancient palaces
And see nothing but the desires that burn in my heart
Desires that are fed from a love of the vicarious wonderment
Of mythic pleasure and fantastical art.

Yet still the undeniable Beauty remains,
Pointing to some Other’s like desire,
Removed four millennia from my own pains,
But untainted by them enough to create
Wondrous images of your living fire,
Golden, glorious youth, powerful still to make
My cold, jaded, bitter heart crumble–and finally break.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 17 February 2010 16:50

    Wow. This is absolutely what I think about when I see these ancient paintings! Stop reading my mind, then wording it better than I do.

  2. 17 February 2010 18:36

    LOL I can’t help it if great minds think alike! But thanks for complimenting it. It’s older but I gave it a brush over before posting; I admit, I am fascinated by the old Minoan art. It is so strange, so haunting…and yet, feels strangely familiar–if one can feel familiarity with the art of a culture about which we no next to nothing, not even their real name.

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