Last week we met the Guilded Queen, sitting on her throne of deceit. Now the game of chess changes settings. Enter the lovely Philomela (called Philomel in the poem). She is sitting quietly at the window, unaware of what is to come.
Philomela is a Greek princess who is raped by her sister’s husband, king Tereus of Thrace. He cuts out her tongue and she is silenced. But she weaves her story into a tapestry that she sends to her sister, Procne. Upon understanding Philomela’s fate, Procne kills her son by Tereus and serves him to his father. When Tereus understands that he has eaten his own son he tries to kill the sisters who pray to the gods to be transformed into birds and thus escape his wrath. Their prayers are answered, Procne is transformed into a swallow and Philomela a nightingale.
See the lovely Philomela at the window. She sits with a crown of flowers and greets the king who is to escort her, not knowing that he will be her downfall. In the sky the swallows dip and dive.
In using this little known myth, T.S. Eliot wants to show we have lost all culture, forgotten the lessons of the past, or worse, disregard them. Although Philomela cries out her pain for all to see, ‘still the world pursues’. Everyone is too wrapped up in their own story to care.
My inspiration for this card was the old black and white photographs that used to be hand tinted before color photography was possible. I used diluted acrylic paint (which is what warped the card a little) for the foliage around the window.
This is one of my favorite projects ever.