Dame Fortune vs Dame Wisdom

Two women, gorgeously dressed,
sitting upright and facing each other,
opposing but intimate postures
carved in wood four centuries ago.

Dame Sapientia, wise in discernment,                     Dame Fortuna, goddess of chance,
gazing into her mirror:                                          blindfolded, holding her gyre:

As Zodiac signs on my glass
circumscribe my reflection
so beauty and wisdom frame human life.

I care not for those reckless souls
who desperately cling to my wheel
before being flung into space.

Have you no pity? No care for any
whose terrified cries you must hear
through the cloth of your blindfold?

No more pity and care than yours
but for your own face in the mirror.
Even blinded, I view all as change.

I see reflected not only my image
but also the great world around and beyond.
I open my eyes to its light.

Why then, on the brink of some insight,
do your thinkers and sages cover their eyes
as if their discoveries dwell in the dark?

A far greater darkness shrouds those
who trust you, sightless Fortune,
and rely on your treacherous wheel.

Fault not the object whose nature is spin.
Fault the gall to presume the spin stops
when it reaches its zenith.


[Sharon Whitehill writes: I’m a retired English professor from West Michigan now living in Port Charlotte, Florida. In addition to poems published in various literary magazines, my publications include two scholarly biographies, two memoirs, two poetry chapbooks, and a full collection of poems. Recently, I’ve also been writing fiction and have completed three novels as yet unpublished. “Dame Fortune vs. Dame Wisdom” was inspired by the sixteenth-century French engraving I happened across one day online. As I studied the images, I tried to imagine what one figure might have said to the other, defending herself and her role.]