Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Death of Sophonisba (Pierre Guerin), Sonnet # 362

I don’t know if my intentions for this painting
Will be interpreted by my descendant who
Will write about my treatment of a suicide.
I hid her beauty in a semblance of fainting,
Head rested on crossed arms, slumped, seated, eyes blue,
A victim of her new husband’s weakness and pride.
I hope he’ll see into what I’ve tried to convey,
Not the tragedy, or the waste, but the decay
Of sense and feeling in a woman betrayed
By politics and a perversion of honor.
Yes, a woman used like a beast, a perfect maid
Who died still with the worst sin dishonoring her.
My heir, absolve both her and me of betrayal
In the sympathetic lies in my portrayal.

Note: Sophonisba drank poison in 203 B.C. to save her 

Carthaginian husband’s life and honor. Pierre Guerin, 
the painter, is speaking of me, his “descendant,” though 
it is unlikely that I am one.