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Saturday, 19 September 2009

The Venus of Willendorf



                1

He who created me,
my nomad, hunter-
gatherer, shaped me
for consort on the trail,

gave me no feet -
what need had I of feet?
He held me in his hand,
fondled as he walked,

whose sharp eyes
picked me out,
half-formed in fine
dense limestone,

half-exhumed from
stone and scree;
whose stone blades
chipped me free,

gave shape
to my rotundity.

                2

Part rosary, part
worry bead,
part pebble in the palm,
tactile he wanted me;

tactile I was - and am.
Venereal.
(Don't ask!) These days
they land

all sorts on me:
Earth Goddess for a start;
Goddess of fecundity -
I ask you,

I, who was his Titty
Babe
, who gave
him feelings
as he walked -

assured him
of his manhood - me!

                3

He'd give me girlie gifts
like body paint.
(Red ochred
I was then.)

Stone chisels shaped
my hair in plaits
and laid them round my head
for him to finger.

Yet not for those
he trekked with me,
but my great vulva - My
high mountain pass
, he'd say.

Nor that alone,
but five prodigious globes
would keep his fingers
busy as we went.

(Didn't seem to mind
my age or motherhood.)

                4

No one knows
how long my sleep -
twenty-, thirty-
thousand years?

They guess! That I
was lifted lightly
to an evening's light
is more the point.

Since when
the earth has opened up
its secret store
of stone-age Venuses -

like cold Kostenki,
Moravany,
Savignano
or (Fanny)Galgenberg.

Riff-raff! Starchy, stylized.
They'd not have thawed his bones!

28 comments:

Mariana Soffer said...

Nice poem, I liked a lot the subject of it.
It is amazing how different are the ideal of beauty among different cultures and in the same culture at the different times it went trough. Also their beliefs, how they are represented, the way of paying tribute to it, their rituals, it is amazing the variety of possibilities.

Be well David

Linda said...

I liked reading your poem Dave. All of the reasons that you are imagining the "Venus" object was created are possible and make sense. Could it also be possible that the wife of the traveling nomads, left at home with the children, carved the image and gave it to her husband to take on his quests, to remind her husband to come home? Or possibly so other women he met knew he had a wife with children (assumption based on the Venus body shape)? There are many speculations. I enjoyed the idea that she was keeping his bones warm all these years. Beautiful!

jinksy said...

Can't beat a female, feminine dame, as the song says!

Karen said...

Wonderful imaginings! I think you do best when you give life to such treasures -- but oh, to make her such a sexual being! Dave!

steven said...

dave - a really nice unpacking of her voluptuous, stony form. there are all sorts of possibilities beyond the surrogate. steven

apprentice said...

What great images you conjure up.

I was in Harris in June and the mountains there look like a pregnant woman lying on her back, and many of the stone circles line up with this view.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Ah Dave - lovely rendering here - men were ever thus!

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Dave, I have really enjoyed it. I feel that the poem actually finishes with the line "like stone-age Venuses". But I'll re-read it.

By the way, a coincidence I enjoy to refer, the word "scree" appears in a great stanza in your work. I wrote a poem at the end of August entitled "On the Scree". Where I actually was, in the mountains.

Dave King said...

Mariana
Yes, I wonder what, if any, are the connections between ideals of beauty and those other beliefs.
Thank you for your wish. Timely as it happens.
Regards.

Linda
Yes, I accept that your possible scenario is as plausible as mine, and no doubt there are many others. I just thought we shouldn't be too stuck on the assumption that the purpose had to do with fertilty.

jinksy
Sure, there's nothing else like this frame!

Karen
Not I, that is her own interpretation.

steven
Yes, for sure.

apprentice
I find that piece of info quite rivetting. Almost worth a poem. Thanks for it.

The Weaver of Grass
ASh, you may have overlooked the fact that it is she herself who sees it thus, not some mere man...

Tommaso
I, too will reread it. Thanks for that. Another case of the synchrocity of the web, perhaps.

Susie Hemingway said...

I loved the poem Dave, so very clever. Much has been written and more poems I know about "The Venus of Willendorf" Art historians always debate the sophistication of her detail, her unknown face, her fertility, her profoundly regal posture, too generous I feel. As they say, she is certainly unfettered by cultral and social conventions but by todays standards positivly dough-like and her generous voluptuous curves from the front view do make a nice cheery face! I am sure she was, as much admired as your poem will be.

Carl said...

You paint with your words. Nice work.

ELAINE ERIG said...

A gorgeous SCULPTURE and a lovely POEM .Congrats.

GYPSYWOMAN said...

totally fantabulous!!!! LOVE it!!!

Friko said...

Very cleverly imagined and so unusual, against accepted wisdom. But then how wold anyone know for sure.
The poem is very good.

enchantedoak said...

This was abundantly fun to read. I've also been enjoying your comments on my blog. I am enamored of you for taking time to visit my posts, let alone comment so kindly. That poem, Cactus Love, came from my rejected poems file, and you have made me rethink it. May you have a wonderful weekend.
Chris Alba

Rachel Fenton said...

I most like how you brought her sraight to now, here, with your words...slap bang up to date...for all her antiquity she is still the symbol for woman...ageless...timeless... I like your depiction of her. A bird in the hand...

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Terrific poem. You have a wonderful eye for the visual and the ability to paint that visual with words.

A Cuban In London said...

I read your poem just after having read about the controvery at the London Fashion Week over the size 12-14 collections by one of the designers. And I loved your work even more. It is a perfect paean to the full-rounded female figure. The curves, the bends, the folds, it is all in there. I loved it. Many thanks, dave. They should put it on the wall at the London Fashion Week.

Greetings from London.

Jim Murdoch said...

Isn't this what art is all about, trying to imbue a lump of rock with meaning? We can only guess at its purpose and what it meant to its owner. I wonder what the future will make of Barbie?

Harlequin said...

I liked how this poem was located in the hand.... for me, it had a felt sense of being carried and all that goes/went with is... nicely done.

Conda V. Douglas said...

I adore the twist on what the Venus was--not an art work or a Goddess, but something far more human. Far more approachable in this poem than in the dry dusty scientific journals!

Adrian LaRoque said...

Nice poem Dave!

Dave King said...

Susie
Thank you very much for the kind remarks and interesting thoughts. The thing that strikes me about her is how much more modern she is than the Venuses that have been discovered since.

Carl
If only... but thanks.

ELAINE
Many thanks.

GYPSYWOMAN
That is very gracious of you. Much thanks.

Friko
Certainly against accepted wisdom. Thanks very much for the encouraging comments.

enchantedoak
Fun is what it was most meant to be, so I greatly appreciate that remark. If Cactus Love was in your reject file, I can't imagine what you must have waiting in your other(s)!

Rachel
As I remarked to Susie, she is in many ways modern. Timeless, though, I agree. Thanks for the feedback. Bird in the hand - I like that!

Trish and Rob MacGregor
Welcome to my blog and very many thanks for stopping by to comment. Very generous comments, for which also thanks.

A Cuban in London
I am tickled pink, in Ken Dodd's phrase, by the comparison with the models and garments of London's Fashion Week. I love the idea of it being on the wall there - especially the image of her.

Jim
Yup, it is precisely what art is all about. I was particularly impressed by the comment on my Eliot post to the effect that his ambiguity allows each to own the work in his/her own way. I think that applies here.

Harlequin
Very much so, the sculpture is only about 11cm (less than 5 inches) tall. Thanks for the comment.

Conda
Thanks Conda for a very pleasing comment. It echoes what I felt, so it is very much appreciated.

Adrian
Many thanks.

Lucas said...

I think you have really caught a timeless mood or feeling here, Dave. It is a completely modern poem, voiced and sculpted to last. And somehow the mysterious pocket Venus retains her mystery. Excellent!

Dave King said...

They are such fascinating objects, I think, but thank you for your kind remarks.

Dominic Rivron said...

Good poem. Interesting to see how so-called "muffin-top waistlines" are not new and date back to the days fast food meant chasing a wildebeeste.

readingsully2 said...

Great work, Dave.:)

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