VENUS with rosy-cloven rump
And rings of straw-bright flying hair
Looks in the glass that slaves are plying
Not for her own face floating there,
But for the sly and curious gaze
Of Rubens, through the keyhole prying.
Warm flesh of gods, by light embayed,
And drifting daemon-bones within
That sweep like music up and down
To pouts and cups of ivory skin,
Firm-valleyed croup, and swagging arm
In whose embankment bracelets drown—
Do you remain, you strokes of paint,
With Venus mocked and Rubens dead
And Beauty sold for an antique
And microscopes raised up instead?
Still are your old adherents true;
Rubens is there, if he could speak.
Rubens is there in your high room,
Rubens it is who blows his breath
To fix you laughing in the glass,
Who keeps a castle here from death
While schools go out and fashions fall
And microscopes and movements pass.
This castle-keep of joys conceived
But never sucked is Rubens' hell,
Is Rubens' limbo, cut and won
From darkness. Here he comes to dwell.
Man's heaven is the place he builds
By thoughts imagined and things done.
Some choose a paradise of gas,
And some, by pious deeds below,
The heavenly butter-hatch for flunkeys;
Who dream of nought to nothing go.
Therefore I'd sooner Rubens' hell
Than go to heaven with the donkeys.
Kenneth Slessor's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Rubens' Hell by Kenneth Slessor )
- Racism, John Masaitis
- Flooding In Kaschmir, Leslie Philibert
- Wild mentality, hasmukh amathalal
- Like A River, Edward Kofi Louis
- National University, Edward Kofi Louis
- May We All Find What We're Looking For S.., Daniel Karbon
- Your love has made me wild and mad, Mazid S Kazi , INDIA
- Tree of life, Veronica Centeno
- Gil Scott Heron, Daniel Karbon
- Headache, Daniel Karbon
Poem of the Day
- 04 Tongues Made Of Glass, Shaun Shane
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- Invictus, William Ernest Henley
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
- At Last She Comes, Robert Louis Stevenson
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
- Heather Burns
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)