Rodin’s Gates of Hell

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The Thinker contemplates a moveless turbulence: men, angels, children, women
agonize eternally, leaping or cast
from shrieking Hell into a lesser torment, seeking what can’t last
beyond this frozen moment. Here are long hands, long arms stretched tight of bone and skin

in knotted ecstasy of pain; tight mouths caught too tight to scream;
sleek writhing forms trapped bursting through the gate that swells and thins to let them pass
for this caught moment, too fleeting for relief before Hell draws them back,
back below the seething gate, back to the wailing dark and the company of the damned.

It must be balanced; an opposing Heaven must exist:
a timeless, flat, cool, blandly pleasant place, where no stark weathered bodies strive
for respite from the blasted murk, that lacks this endless
doomed struggle. Perhaps this is what the Thinker contemplates: that Hell is,
and so Heaven too must be; that somewhere men, in sculptured bliss eternal as
these damned he watches over, are content: are blessed: are not so much alive.

 

 

Image: Paris – Musée Rodin: La Porte de l’Enfer – Fugit Amor, by Flickr user Wally Gobetz, published under a Creative Commons  Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license.

This is, I am forced to concede, an ekphrastic poem, a term which I, in the lengthening years, had quite forgot, till I was timely reminded by a post from Molly Spencer on her blog, the stanza.

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