No Smoke Without Fire
The ordeal of Artemisia Gentileschi
Roman matrons of impeccable breed
expressed outrage in hearing the news
of a vile attack and unanimously agreed
that it was ignominious and such a shame
yet girls were too easy and many a maid
didn’t much care to lose her good name
when she acquiesced to getting laid.
It was inconceivable that a virgin would
be hoodwinked by an unscrupulous cad
and be deprived of her maidenhood.
There were many claims that intercourse
had been achieved without due consent
and women found themselves in a mire
unable to prove they were taken by force.
Rumours ensued: no smoke without fire.
But hapless Artemisia was not to blame
for what took place in broad daylight.
She was seventeen, young, pretty, naive
and was courted by numerous suitors
but although she put up a brave fight
she was raped and abused by her tutor.
In the face of adversity, her strength
and resilience withstood the onslaught
of rumours that followed the ordeal.
The setback was the spur to a rebirth,
she immersed herself in her art again
with renewed enthusiasm and great zeal;
painting a catharsis for psychic pain.
Her graphic portrayal of powerful women
– shown as protagonists or equal to men –
seems to suggest she sought vengeance
for the defloration and the maltreatment.
With resolution and rebellious defiance
she achieved success and reached the top
and became an icon for the female sex.
© Luigi Pagano 2017
© ionicus 2021