Fountain of Fate

1) Evangelical Animals, The Book of Kells, Trinity College, Dublin, MS 58, fol. 27v
2) Baptistery, St. John Lateran, Rome
3) The Copernicus Planisphere, by Andreas Cellarius, Harmonia Macrocosmica, plate 4

Act I, scene i 

He stood beneath a dome of tow’ring height.
The ceiling of the room was far away;
a false sky met his gaze with twinkling lights,
a belt of time in Zodiac array.
Gold curtains fell like waterfalls, risqué
and riverine they flowed around the vault.
The veils were drawn across the grand archways
and framed the ceiling made of dark cobalt.
The neon lights flashed on and off like flaming salt.

A sea of bronze upheld by oxen pairs
stood brimful with the waters of the skies.
The waters poured out over stony stairs
into a fountain filled with golden bribes.
A sterling current rolled its liquid ice
spewed by a dragon from the fountain’s hearth,
while on its base were words deeply incised:
“All fate’s a wager—boldly now cast forth!
Dame Fortune favors those who go in quest of worth.”

Four faces ringed the watery wheel of chance:
a man, a bull, a lion, and a drake.
Laid out in gemstones on the floor, they danced, 
and bowed down towards the brazen oxen lake.
Their wings were dazzling in the water’s wake;
four bodies were of men, three faces beasts.
The creatures proffered; who would treasure take?
The man surveyed them, north, south, west, and east.
Their mouths gaped open, hungering for souls to feast.


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