Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dante and Virgil in Hell (Bouguereau), Sonnet # 179

This, the eighth circle of Hell, where liars and frauds
Turn thwarted ambition to violent attacks,
Is the last refuge of all political hacks,
Where righteousness shrieks in the name of the gods.
Men of faith bite the throats of men of reason.
They tear at each other with once-ink-stained fingers
And vow to prove vast conspiracies of treason,
Calling to chambers testimonial singers.
Virgil and Dante cringe, impotent witnesses,
Appalled by acts born of conviction, yet witless.
The less guilty, forgers and fibbers, writhe like snakes
To flee the melee, though they voted for these fakes.
Above, a winged Lucifer grins his approval,
And schemes for our virtuous poets' recusal.

Inventions Of The Monsters (Dali), Sonnet #178

Who sets the giraffes on fire, strips the maidens bare?
Who shovels corpses into an empty chess square?
Who puts breath into a breasted horse-headed bust
And grinds all of mankind's fillings into gold dust?
(They knew a real monster once, a failing student
Who could dissect a soul with a few rude insights,
Trepan their insecurities, vices, and fears.
He'd laugh as he gave each of them the treatment.
They'd laugh, but each felt secretly that he was right.
Too timid to see the truth, they were his mirrors.)
We gather at white draped altars and contemplate
Not who we are but what perversions to create.
The monsters exist to give us a thrill, a scare,
Which is why we invented them -- not one is there.