Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Baleful Head (Edward Burne-Jones)


In the apple orchard's clear, octagonal well,
The hero reveals the Gorgon's head to his prize.
He's killed the sea serpent before it ate the nude
Beauty her frightened father had offered to sell
To appease a god angered by arrogant lies.
But why show his bride-to-be what's vicious and lewd?
Medusa made man or woman adulterers.
Enchanted by her shameless, urgent moans,
Her mad green eyes and wild, seductive leers,
Their surging blood turned them to stone.
(They died dreaming of her enchanted caresses,
Not because they abhorred her serpentine tresses.)
Perseus seems eager for her to see the head --
A pledge of fidelity, or to inspire dread?