I loved Medusa when she was a child,
Her rich brown tresses heaped in crispy curl
Where now those locks with reptile passion whirl,
By hate into dishevelled serpents coiled.
I loved Medusa when her eyes were mild,
Whose glances, narrowed now, perdition hurl,
As her self-tangled hairs their mass unfurl,
Bristling the way she turns with hissings wild.
Her mouth I kissed when curved with amorous spell,
Now shaped to the unuttered curse of hell,
Wide open for death’s orbs to freeze upon;
Her eyes I loved ere glazed in icy stare,
Ere mortals, lured into their ruthless glare,
She shrivelled in her gaze to pulseless stone.
-- Thomas Gordon Hake, The Infant Medusa.
As told by Ovid in Metamorphoses, Medusa was a beautiful young woman whose crowning glory was her magnificent long hair. She was desired and courted by countless suitors. Yet, before she could be betrothed to a husband, Poseidon (Neptune) found her worshipping in the temple of Athena (Minerva) and ravished her. Outraged at her sacred temple being violated, Athena punished Medusa by turning her beautiful tresses into snakes and giving her the destructive power to turn anyone who looked directly at her into stone.
My Medusa holds a stone heart in her palm -- blazing red with the torment that burns within her.