The Apotheosis of Delacroix

The Apotheosis of Delacroix

The Apotheosis of Delacroix

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A weekly poem, read by the author.
Feb. 25 1999 3:30 AM

The Apotheosis of Delacroix

To hear the poet read "The Apotheosis of Delacroix," click here.

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The heavens rumble. Clouds are raised by riderless thunder
that halts then storms unreined, snorts and halts again
in sweaty, wide-eyed frenzy. Black, the dog, is barking.
Pissarro has just set up parasol and easel. Cézanne looks up
from under broad-brimmed hat, paint-box burden strapped across
his back. farmers drop jaw and pitchfork and gape
in pious wonder. They behold Apollo's chariot charge through
sky's Mozarabic arches; they observe that beyond
those gates (opened by a turbaned servant) a fragrant Odalisque
welcomes the artist in sprawled nakedness. Kohl-rimmed
eyes of the divine tigress promise endless angelic wrestling. But
as mortal and immortal forms do at last commingle,
impassioned and violent, could Death's voyeurs suppose that
the resplendent Delacroix himself composed this one last
painted ceiling, this celestial arabesque of his own soul's uprising?

Mary Maxwell's first collection of poems, An Imaginary Hellas, will be published by the University of South Carolina in the James Dickey Contemporary Poetry Series.