Clio, Muse of History

after painting by Charles Meynier (French, 1768–1832)

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"Clio, Muse of History" by Charles Meynier. Photo courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The muse of history sits

on a chipped slab of granite, 

her wings discolored with blue and rust.

Dominating the foreground

is the likeness of a great warrior on his steed,

carved into stone and overgrown with vines.

A place of stillness;

no false serenity, no majestic terror,

only the stark weight of time and ruin.

Beyond looms

the shadows of columns and pyramids,

obscured by the murk

to be named or forgotten.

An iron tablet rests

on draped cloth folded across her thigh,

upheld by one hand.

The chisel hovers

glimmering a wink of foreshadowing,

poised to inscribe the dull golden letters.

Two eyes spear

a calm glare into the distance,

her lips are closed.

The grim face of knowledge,

an angel risen from dust,

her crown of leaves

the only vibrant thing.

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