Flowers of Orcus


The Flowers of Orcus was drawn from an imagistic poem by Ezra Pound.

Δώρια (Doria)
Be in me as the eternal moods
of the bleak wind, and not
As transient things are —
gaiety of flowers.
Have me in the strong loneliness
of sunless cliffs
And of grey waters.
Let the gods speak softly of us
In days hereafter,
The shadowy flowers of Orcus
Remember Thee.

The title Doria references the classical Greek Doric forms of music and architecture, which were renowned for their austerity. Orcus was a god of the underworld who likely originated from Etruscan religion. In Roman beliefs, he represents the vengeful aspect of Death. Orcus could also be used for as a name for the underworld in general, so the shadowy flowers are those that are found in the land of the dead.

In the painting, the stern and unflinching bone contrasts with lively flowers dancing around the skull. As in the poem, this juxtaposition of hardness and softness, stillness and movement, creates a sense of flux, whilst simultaneously referencing the circle of life.

Oil on Panel
40cm x 40cm
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© Kieran Ingram 2018