Saturday, April 10, 2010

Raden Saleh, Milton, and a Tiger Couchant

[Raden Sarief Bustaman Saleh, "Javanese Landscape, with Tigers Listening to the Sound of a Traveling Group," 1849; being auctioned at Christie's in Hong Kong next month, after being in private hands since it was painted].

Keeping in mind that it is National Poetry Month here in the U.S.A., the lugubrious lobster selects a passage from Milton (from Book IV of Paradise Lost):

"So spake the Fiend, and with necessitie,
The Tyrants plea, excus'd his devilish deeds.
Then from his loftie stand on that high Tree
Down he alights among the sportful Herd
Of those fourfooted kindes, himself now one,
Now other, as thir shape servd best his end
Neerer to view his prey, and unespi'd
To mark what of thir state he more might learn
By word or action markt: about them round
A Lion now he stalkes with fierie glare,
Then as a Tiger, who by chance hath spi'd
In some Purlieu two gentle Fawnes at play,
Strait couches close, then rising changes oft
His couchant watch, as one who chose his ground
Whence rushing he might surest seise them both
Grip't in each paw: when ADAM first of men
To first of women EVE thus moving speech,
Turnd him all eare to heare new utterance flow."

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