Garden of Earthly Delights (Hieronymus Bosch)


How many eyes have seen the sun?
In the beginning, there were only four
That, commanded by an invisible power,
Could see nothing not part of a One.
Yes, it was beautiful and safe, though strange.
So much, like the sun, meant to be liked,
But not touched, seductive but spiked --
That terrifying fountain and mountain range.
They should not grasp what they couldn't use
When creatures went by in ones, not twos.
After a leopard dragged off and ate its prey,
They began to think, to create. When the Lord
Appeared to explain the snake, they ran away.
What was said no painting could record.

The Garden of Earthly Delights

Here there is no thing I cannot kiss,
No texture or form I cannot caress.
We've learned how to smile from birds,
From beasts the uselessness of words.
I've spent my hours in the glass globe,
In bubbles of wood, shell, and rind.
I have ridden the pard and the antelope
(And, in secret, the female of my kind).
We do what we're meant to do, it seems.
Why else stroke fish, feed apples to owls,
Perform handstands in midstream,
Or let birds nest on our bowels?
Childless, we treat bloated fruit like toys.
We enjoy it all, of course, but without joy.


Not chaos, because each moment is real,
Here is where you learn to learn.
Instruments, musical and scientific,
Tools, the blade in particular, reveal
There is no progress, only return
To the moment, each moment horrific.
Fires illuminate. No passion or fury
Drives your jailers, only the calm stare
Of the man made of egg and tree
With feet of boats, whose inside is air.
Eaten and shat, pierced and hanged
By creatures cobbled from your fears,
You'll endure, pipes blown, drum banged,
Harp rasped, without your ears.

(The cover image, when the triptych is closed up.)