Maze for the Minotaur
(Poem by Philip Dodd, inspired by the Minotaur sculpture by Michael Ayrton.)
Here we are, this is it,
his last work, his final finished sculpture,
made of stone and glass,
not one to easily pass,
compels the mind to study,
step up a ladder,
to reach the higher mass,
the homes of golden tomes,
small enough to stand
on this sturdy legged table,
as you can see,
deserves a room to itself
in the exhibition,
I think you will agree.
An oversized paperweight,
he called it once,
more serious than in levity.
Maze for the Minotaur, its title.
Why did he carve this bull headed monster?
What did he search for?
Proof of the soul as something separate,
He knew Greek, all the myths,
so its subject is no surprise,
the Minotaur, the creature unique,
the prisoner of Crete,
trapped in a maze,
the labyrinth Daedalus made,
held by his own reflection
in a mirror wall,
his bull brow frowns,
his beast mind asks:
who am I, me or him I see?
The longer he looks,
the harder the puzzle.
As ever, he was trying
to say something with his sculpture,
grasp something, heal his mind,
step into his own maze, blind.
For Samuel Beckett’s dramatized despair,
he had no time.
No, no, he protested,
it is not that,
there is something there.
Understood that Heart of Darkness quote:
the horror, the horror.
Yes, when the veil is torn,
what is real can seem that way,
to study history, a slow, silent, self torture,
he said, to concentrate on war and empire,
unredeemed by culture,
was to hunt with the wolf,
nest with the vulture.
With existential works,
he refused to agree.
Surely that is not philosophy,
but a passing mood,
an arrogant adolescent attitude,
that some of us go through,
he once said, that he for one had long out grew.
What did the Minotaur see in the mirror?
Why did he strive to be victor
over the ones who said all was futility?
It was his last work, as I have said,
we have gone through all his papers,
his sketches left behind,
since he was found, full stretched,
collapsed, in his garden, dead,
and found no new lines he planned
to build upon.
His heart failed him before he reached
his small quarry of broken stone.
What he would have made next
will remain unknown.
Let us leave it here,
his bull headed guardian,
to study his reflection
in one mirror of his maze,
his stony labyrinth underground,
closed off, sealed, silent,
no interruption of sound.
He said he knew what Theseus saw,
after he had slain the Minotaur,
more than ocean with no shore,
more than sky stunned by thunder,
with a grey glint in his granite eye,
as he left the maze behind,
no longer in peril, no longer blind,
he glimpsed, for a moment,
there was something more,
and found release in a cry,
the wonder, yes, the wonder, the wonder.