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Description of The Funeral of Atala (Funérailles d'Atala or Atala au tombeau), 1808, Louvre
I sauntered through the Louvre, observing art.
One painting struck me for its quality
of sadness; I could see a young man’s heart
was clearly broken by a tragedy.
The man is Indian; he’s in a cave
with an old man who holds the shoulders of
a woman they’ll be putting in her grave.
The Indian is mourning for his love.
He’s sitting, clinging to her draped knees, and
though for me this image was unclear,
a crucifix is clutched inside her hand.
Outside upon a hill, a cross is near.
The artist was recalling the sad scene
of Atala, a woman who was mired
in mental conflict. She was torn between
religious vows and the one man she loved.
Although the heroine wears virgin white,
some sensuality is shown with grace.
The day is waning, and the sun’s last light
caresses her fair bosom and her face.
The focus is this woman, but my eyes
go to the half-nude Indian whose skin
is brown, in contrast to the girl who lies
dead by her own hand for fear she would sin!
The novel that explored Atala’s woe
inspired more than one painter in the time
romanticism had begun to grow,
but Girodet’s work of art for me is prime!
Written May 9, 2017 for the Celebration of Art Contest of Kim Rodrigues
Note: I can't find a French syllable counter, but English puts the artist's name Girodet at three syllables.
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