Titiaan ‘De dood van Actaeon’ 1565-76

The change

Christopher Reid

The goddess with her killer glare:
no problem there. I’ve seen that look myself
often enough, aimed straight at me,
and it wasn’t hard to swivel it
through ninety degrees and fix it in profile.
(That dinky quiver, wrong size for the bow,
I’ll adjust later.) The dogs, too, I can handle,
if I can keep the brushwork fluent:
less a pack of them than a flood, a torrent,
of muscular flanks and backs and squabbling
yelps and scent-maddened muzzles
dragging your man down. Now, he’s the trouble,
which is why I’ve put him in the middle distance,
an arrow’s flight away. He’s turning into a stag.
But how do you do that, exactly?
Head first, as I’ve tried here, following Ovid?
Ping! – he’s got antlers and a long neck,
but the rest of his body’s slow on the uptake,
so he’s left looking less like prey brought low
than some tipsy idiot taking a spill at a carnival?
Forget it. What I want is the change itself,
when he’s neither man nor beast, or somehow both at once,
and you don’t just see but feel the combined
horror and justice of his fate. Some way to go.
Never mind, I’ll be patient. It can wait.


Ter gelegenheid van de Olympische spelen toont de National Gallery in Londen drie schilderijen van Titiaan uit zijn reeks ‘metamorfosen’.
Het betreft de volgende schilderijen:

·         Diana en Actaeon 1556-9
Olieverf op canvas 184 x 202 cm

·         De dood van Actaeon 1565-76
Olieverf op canvas 178 x 198 cm

·         Diana en Callisto 1556-9
Olieverf op canvas 187 x 204 cm

Ter gelegenheid van deze expositie zijn veertien dichters verzocht te reflecteren op deze schilderijen. Het bovenstaande gedicht is een van deze veertien gedichten, de anderen zijn:

Patience Agbabi, Simon Armitage, Wendy Cope, Carol Ann Duffy, Lavinia Greenlaw, Tony Harrison, Seamus Heaney, Frances Leviston, Sinéad Morressey,  Don Paterson,  Jo Shapcott, George Szirtes, Hugo Williams.

In mijn KunstKolom over de doorwerking van de metamorfosen in de beeldende kunst kunt u meer lezen over deze expositie,  de metamorfosen, Titiaan e.v.a..