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The Conjunction of Jupiter and Venus by William Cullen Bryant (3rd November, 1794 – 12th June, 1878)

I would not always reason. The straight path
Wearies us with its never–varying lines,
And we grow melancholy. I would make
Reason my guide, but she should sometimes sit
Patiently by the way–side, while I traced
The mazes of the pleasant wilderness
Around me. She should be my counsellor,
But not my tyrant. For the spirit needs
Impulses from a deeper source than hers,
And there are motions, in the mind of man,
That she must look upon with awe. I bow
Reverently to her dictates, but not less
Hold to the fair illusions of old time–
Illusions that shed brightness over life,
And glory over nature. Look, even now,
Where two bright planets in the twilight meet,
Upon the saffron heaven,–the imperial star
Of Jove, and she that from her radiant urn
Pours forth the light of love. Let me believe,
Awhile, that they are met for ends of good,
Amid the evening glory, to confer
Of men and their affairs, and to shed down
Kind influence. Lo! their orbs burn more bright,
And shake out softer fires! The great earth feels
The gladness and the quiet of the time.
Meekly the mighty river, that infolds
This mighty city, smooths his front, and far
Glitters and burns even to the rocky base
Of the dark heights that bound him to the west;
And a deep murmur, from the many streets,
Rises like a thanksgiving. Put we hence
Dark and sad thoughts awhile – there’s time for them
Hereafter – on the morrow we will meet,
With melancholy looks, to tell our griefs,
And make each other wretched; this calm hour,
This balmy, blessed evening, we will give
To cheerful hopes and dreams of happy days,
Born of the meeting of those glorious stars.

Enough of drought has parched the year, and scared
The land with dread of famine. Autumn, yet,
Shall make men glad with unexpected fruits.
The dog–star shall shine harmless; genial days
Shall softly glide away into the keen
And wholesome cold of winter; he that fears
The pestilence, shall gaze on those pure beams,
And breathe, with confidence, the quiet air.

Emblems of power and beauty! well may they
Shine brightest on our borders, and withdraw
Towards the great Pacific, marking out
The path of empire. Thus, in our own land,
Ere long, the better Genius of our race,
Having encompassed earth, and tamed its tribes,
Shall sit him down beneath the farthest west,
By the shore of that calm ocean, and look back
On realms made happy.

Light the nuptial torch,
And say the glad, yet solemn rite, that knits
The youth and maiden. Happy days to them
That wed this evening! –a long life of love,
And blooming sons and daughters! Happy they
Born at this hour, –for they shall see an age
Whiter and holier than the past, and go
Late to their graves. Men shall wear softer hearts,
And shudder at the butcheries of war,
As now at other murders.

Hapless Greece!
Enough of blood has wet thy rocks, and stained
Thy rivers; deep enough thy chains have worn
Their links into thy flesh; the sacrifice
Of thy pure maidens, and thy innocent babes,
And reverend priests, has expiated all
Thy crimes of old. In yonder mingling lights
There is an omen of good days for thee.
Thou shalt arise from ’midst the dust and sit
Again among the nations. Thine own arm
Shall yet redeem thee. Not in wars like thine
The world takes part. Be it a strife of kings,–
Despot with despot battling for a throne,–
And Europe shall be stirred throughout her realms,
Nations shall put on harness, and shall fall
Upon each other, and in all their bounds
The wailing of the childless shall not cease,
Thine is a war for liberty, and thou
Must fight it single–handed. The old world
Looks coldly on the murderers of thy race,
And leaves thee to the struggle; and the new, –
I fear me thou couldst tell a shameful tale
Of fraud and lust of gain; –thy treasury drained,
And Missolonghi fallen. Yet thy wrongs
Shall put new strength into thy heart and hand,
And God and thy good sword shall yet work out,
For thee, a terrible deliverance.

Danaë Receiving the Golden Rain by Titian (1553 – 1554)

Tizian_Danae

 

Titian (1485 – 1576) painted a series based on the legend of Danaë as narrated by Ovid. The series was commissioned by Phillip II and Danaë with Nursemaid or Danaë Receiving the Golden Rain found its home in Monastic Palace, Escorial. Deeply erotic, Jupiter is seen making love with Danaë in this painting. This is symbolised by the showering gold coins from the sky. The resplendent beauty of Danaë was further accentuated by the artist through placing her old nursemaid close by the bed. Danaë’s glowing face is complemented by the warmth of the colour of the draperies while the tone behind the old nursemaid is visibly sombre. Many artists, including Correggio, Rembrandt, Alexandre Jacques Chantron and Gustav Klimt, in later years revisited the topic on canvas.

 

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