Patinir, Joachim: ‘Landscape with Saint Jerome’ 1516-1517 (Museo Del Prado) – painting reference.
There Charon stirs; – by dreary rocks –
A God of the Underworld: Crossing the Styx!
Beating his oar upward, fierce and mean;
His beard blows like fire, wild and dirty;
His eyes descend upon me, torn and hollow.
Oh, I, a reluctant Sinner; – enter his boat –
A man of earth: entering the Underworld!
Blessed with Hermes, as psychopomp clean;
But my Soul is weak, destiny is bleak;
My expression doubts the Spring flowing from Lethe.
Looking to the left; – I see Paradise –
Christian heaven: the hard road that leads to life!
Where an angel beckons her wings, upright;
Her smile is light, and on the promontory she stands;
In company of repentant souls, righteously abound.
Ah, sinuous tide; – we turn towards Hades –
Cerberus dwells in fire: the Inferno!
Bodies that sting, burnt, wretched flesh;
Hung from the black gates of a castle wreck;
Pierced with the hot rod of vice, trials awaits me.
Charon roars with the tide; – crashing waves –
Cape Matapan fast approaches: the Peloponnesus!
A giant grey cave ascends towards the furnace;
An enclave leading to the feet of he who Punishes;
But in fear I plead, and hear my Guardian weep.
The way home is drenched; – oh, cloudy fog –
The angels sigh: Heavens promise I’d forgotten!
Swearing Damnation, fighting Satan with fury;
My bosom startles into shape, singing with praise;
Oh, joy, I bow, smiling in deep arrest;
Whispering where only truth can rest:
“Thanks be to you O Lord Our God”.