“Titian’s Flaying of Marsyas”

Below you’ll find a cheesy, didactic poem I composed in ’06 when an assignment required us to write about a work of art. The poem demonstrates, yet again, why I tend to stick to “nonsense” verse.

“Titian’s Flaying of Marsyas
Head dangling over oily crimson ground—
A grisly dripping feast for a hound—
Does he now curse the sweetly singing sound
Of that once discarded instrument he found?

As he’s being peeled like some soft, ripe fruit,
Does he wish he’d never blown into that flute?
For the tunes he played, he grew to so admire
As to claim them fine as those of Apollo’s lyre.

Did he unwisely neglect to recall
The tragic fate that one day did befall
Arachne—challenger of the grey-eyed Goddess—
Notoriously punished for her art’s success?

Perhaps he remembers, as coldly his death nears,
How came old King Midas to possess asses’ ears
And realizes that he has been such a sorry fool
To incite the wrath of a god not often cruel.

Though the ever-steady hand of Phoebus slowly flays
The sinful satyr, ‘tis truly hubris that slays
Him and dyes the barks of pines forever red
As the one on which his final blood is bled.


5 thoughts on ““Titian’s Flaying of Marsyas”

    1. paulwhitberg Post author

      That is kind of you to say. The more I look at the painting, the more gruesome details I discover. As Titian seems to have known, the Gods did not take kindly to being upstaged in the arts!



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