Friday, February 14, 2014

Goddess Excellently Bright

Queen and huntress, chaste and fair,
Now the sun is laid to sleep,
Seated in thy silver chair
State in wonted manner keep:
         Hesperus entreats thy light,
         Goddess excellently bright.

Earth, let not thy envious shade
Dare itself to interpose;
Cynthia's shining orb was made
Heaven to clear when day did close:
         Bless us then with wished sight,
         Goddess excellently bright.

Lay thy bow of pearl apart
And thy crystal-shining quiver;
Give unto the flying hart
Space to breathe, how short soever:
         Thou that mak'st a day of night,
         Goddess excellently bright.

-Ben Jonson (1572-1637), English poet and playwright

Johannes Vermeer, Diana and Her Companions (1650s).

In this painting, possibly the earliest existing work by the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer, female companions of the goddess Diana (Artemis) solemnly wash her feet. 

The theme of women in quiet, reflective moments would become a recurring feature of Vermeer's work as it developed.

The hart (deer), object of the chase, is a symbol of the god Shiva (the Self) residing in the heart. The goddess of chastity, Diana, crowned with the moon, resembles the Hindu goddess Parvati, whose sole aim was to win the love of Lord Shiva and become one with the Self.

No comments: