There's no way to explain the orderOtherwise she had been first;
Man was meant for Woman
Or else he'd be the worse.
She came after as equal
But also his--how should I say?
A partner, superior, and teacher
Who most cruelly shows the way.
He sees her first a Helen
Then a Fury--Lilith, or Salome,
And at long journey's end, a real Odysseus,
He meets Penelope.
She teaches him a humble way
And makes him close his mouth.
In the nuptial bower, however, there,
Reveals to him a truth:
You are not everything you seem
Nor are you what you lack--
Nor are you merely what you've done,
For truth will draw you back
In disguise, perhaps you'll learn
A thing or two 'bout youth
But from me, alone, you'll learn,
And naked then--
Something of God's reproof.
(image: Odysseus and Penelope, by Francesco Primaticcio, 1563)