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Maz Hedgehog performs a new poem responding to Titian's 'Diana and Callisto', and discusses the complex relationship between artists and their patrons with National Gallery educator, Fiona Alderton.
For Philip II, King of Spain
My King, feel not for Callisto
Do not concern yourself with sympathy
Hysterical tears beguiling weaker men
She begs mercy for her own transgression
Remember she has earned her nakedness.
Fear not nakedness
The Church counsels against sins of the
Flesh. This is neither sin nor flesh
Simply a pagan fantasy rendered in oil
Laid upon canvas for your delight.
My liege, relish this vision of Diana,
She is pale as moonlight, plump and nude
Her chastity unbroken by your gaze upon her breast
Sensuous and beautiful and
Unveiled for your courtly pleasure.
See her pleasure in Callisto's shame
Compelling her nymphs to reveal
Humiliation laying with despair
It gives honour to your virility
Bears witness to your majesty.
My King, witness this little world of lust
Hallowed by gilt framing and respectable allegory
I ask of your Majesty.
As I stand before you, recent heir to Callisto's misfortune.
Would you have me similarly uncovered?
Do I have a choice?
Digital activity at the National Gallery is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies Digital Accelerator