You give us newborn Venus, fair
and innocent—her hands and hair
arranged to hide her nakedness—
an unexpected seemliness.
Her flesh is pale, sweet, luminous—
spun-sugar delicate, a gloss
of candy rather than ripe fruit—
weak nourishment for love's pursuit.
The scalloped birth-shell floats on curls
of froth. How could violent forces hurl
Uranus' death-child from the ocean floor
and not throw tidal waves ashore?
She stands still dazed, ignorant
of destiny, paying scant
attention to the winds which press
close, hover, blow roses to impress.
Winds. They blew in Florence, too.
Savonarola's breath squalled through
the city, blasting citizens
with fear of burning for their sins
in life as well as after death.
Allegiances changed faith.
Even the Medici, your great
and powerful patrons, fled the state.
You stayed, caught in the mad monk's siege
against Greco-Roman blasphemies.
Remorse? Terror? What fury sent
you to burn your own magnificent
work? All that you could grasp—destroyed.
And afterwards? Your paints employed
somber hues, grew dark, as if
you painted ashen grief.
Were you mourning for the art
you burned or for your fallen heart?
You cherished her. It's obvious
in her discreetly crafted loveliness.
Ah, Botticelli, don't repent
your passion's grand bedevilment.
The woman you portrayed is chaste—
Madonna-pure, unstained, God-graced,
immaculate, with angel host,
a fresh, unsullied Eve at most—
illuminating love's first flare
less as lust, more as prayer—
a spirit, lithe, fine, rarefied—
no carnal, pagan goddess-guide
set to pander immorality
and lure souls from Divinity.
Her lines, tones, shades, hues—all celebrate
the purest art that you—and God—create.