Lament

Mourning for Paris – and for us all – I turn once again to Jan Zwicky, looking for hope in dark times  …

Prelude

There is, said Pythagoras, a sound

the planet makes: a kind of music

just outside our hearing, the proportion

and the resonance of things – not

the clang of theory or the wuthering

of human speech, not even

the bright song of sex or hunger, but

the unrung ringing that

supports them all.

.

The wife, no warning, dead

when you come home. Ducats

in the fishheads that you salvage

from the rubbish heap. Is the cosmos

laughing at us? No. It’s saying

improvise.  Everywhere you look

there’s beauty, and it’s rimed

with death. If you find injustice

you’ll find humans, and this means

that if you listen, you’ll find love.

The substance of the world is light,

is water: here, clear

even when it’s dying; even when the dying

seems unbearable, it runs.

– from Forge (2011), by Jan Zwicky

.

Rembrandt

Rembrandt, “Lucretia” (1666), oil on canvas, 105 x 92.5 cm

According to the Roman historian Livy, Lucretia, the wife of a Roman nobleman, was known for her virtue and loyalty. She was raped by Sextus Tarquinius, the son of the ruling tyrant. The next day Lucretia revealed the crime to her husband and father and, in their presence, took her own life, choosing death over dishonor.Rembrandt used the story of Lucretia as the subject for two of his most moving paintings in which he represented two moments in the tragedy of Lucretia’s suicide. The first version, painted in 1664 and in the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, depicts Lucretia just before she takes her life. This second version, painted in 1666, portrays Lucretia moments after she had plunged the knife into her heart.


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