Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Emily Bilman Explores the Eros of Vermeer and Bronzino

Allegory with Venus and Cupid, 1545



Eros, An Allegory
after Bronzino’s Allegory with Venus and Cupid

Deceit, your hands are the tools of impunity.
You hold a honey-comb inside one palm,
A bitter scorpion-sting inside the other.
Pleasure, your child-prisoner, laughs as he scatters
Roses to Venus and Cupid in their nuptials.

Sly as a straying vixen, Deceit, you stare
Fraudulently at the erotic love scene
From your niche: your white body is born
From serpent-scales while your face of
Marble-melancholy is broken by reproaches.

A satyr and a masked nymph lie at Venus’s feet.
Old man Time and the livid female mask of Oblivion
Compete for this regal gift behind a blue silk drapery.
Pleasure and Deceit, sculpted from soft marble-flesh,
Vye, throughout, to bait and abet lust for Love.

Vermeer’s Love Letter
The Love Letter, 1669-70


There’s a sly complicity between the mistress
And her maid who gazes with pleasure 
While the lady turns to her with an anxious
Anticipation as she holds the love-letter,
The palimpsest of her lover’s passion.

He left her to sail on rich tumultuous shores.

Her painter-husband’s camera obscura 
Reproduces the scene from the slightly 
Opened door of a dark side-room littered with
A creased map while she placidly reads
His letter in the comfort of her kitchen
Suffused with a soft subdued light.

The framed painting, an intended indenture,
Feigns the fate of hand-to-hand adventure.


Dr. Emily Bilman hosts poetry meetings in her home in Geneva, Switzerland.  She earned her PhD from East Anglia University, where she taught literature; her dissertation, The Psychodynamics of Poetry, was published in 2010. Peter Lang published Modern Ekphrasis, which discusses the poetry-painting analogy from Plato to Derrida, in 2013. Two poetry collections, A Woman By A Well and Resilience are available from Matador. Her poems appear in The London Magazine, The Linnet’s Wings, Hunger Mountain, at www.ekphrastic.net, and many other journals. Read more on her website here.

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