Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Psychopompos' Lament

I am not certain where, but I remember hearing that one of the possible suitors for Persephone's hand was Hermes.  That recollection, along with this well-known painting by Lord Frederick Leighton, led to the following poem. 

I can see myself burying my face into her flower-scented hair
I can see myself holding her delicate face in my hands and kissing her lips
I can see myself with her tiny hand in mine
I could have made an excellent husband
I guess I wasn’t fast enough.

I see her all the time.
Every time I guide the dead to her golden throne
I have to look into her deep colored eyes
Eyes that change from blue to green to violet
They see my sadness
She thinks it is for the soul I have just transported
And she is moved by my compassion
That is not why I am sad. That is my vocation.
My heart aches with my love for her
And she will never know
I cannot betray her friendship or the friendship of her king

I remember the day that I brought her back to her mother
She was still pale and scared
The juice of the pomegranate still staining her lips
Blood on the mouth a vampire freshly fed on a virgin
She was the sacrificed virgin
She had become the vampire

The thieves, the gamblers, the tricksters
They are simply a pastime
I have waited an eternity to hold her in my arms
I will never hold her in my arms
I will wait until the end of time
To love the queen of the dead

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Myth of Persephone

This story is actually one that I tell, not one that I read.  However, when I am working out a new version of a myth to tell I like to write it out first, it helps me memorize the basic details.  I hope you enjoy this retelling of the Myth of Persephone.

Myth of Persephone

Demeter joyfully gave birth to a beautiful blonde haired daughter with the dawning of the winter solstice sun and by spring the girl was the most beautiful young maiden on all of Mount Olympus. Demeter was elated that her Daughter was so beautiful that she covered the earth in brilliant spring flowers and everything was bright yellow, blue and green. As Persephone grew, her uncle, Hades, king of the underworld, watched her closely. He ruled over world of shadow and ugliness. If he were able to have a wife as beautiful as Persephone, she could be the bright spot in his kingdom of the Dead. Hades proposed to Zeus, Persephone’s father. “I am in love with your Daughter. Please give me her hand in Marriage.” Zeus knew that Hades was sincere and so he promised that if Persephone wished to be married then it would be made so.

Persephone spent her carefree childhood with her Mother, but as she grew older she became more independent and began to venture out on her own. She went for long walks in the woods by herself thinking about how wonderful the world was. It was on one of those walks that she met Hades. He was not beautiful, but his company delighted her so much that she could see the beauty inside him. They spent the day walking in the sun, laughing and sharing stories. As the sun began to set, Hades asked her to be his wife and the Queen of the Underworld. ‘Yes!” she exclaimed. “I will go anywhere with you, my love. Let us go tell my Mother, the Goddess.”

Persephone and Hades found Demeter preparing for the night and they told her of their plans to be wed. “No!” Demeter screamed, “I will not have it. My daughter is too young, too innocent and too fragile. She should remain unwed like the great Virgin Goddesses. She should be held in the same regard as Athena, and Artemis.”

“Lady Demeter, Persephone will be Queen when she is with me in the underworld.” Hades said, but he could not persuade Demeter.

“Mother I love him,” Persephone tried her justification, and still no acceptance. So, Hades bid farewell to the Goddesses. As he left, Persephone promised that she would come to him.

While her mother slept, Persephone sneaked out into the open air and searched for the passage to the underworld where she surprised Hades. The two pledged their souls to one another and promised to be together until the end of time. And with that vow, they sealed their marriage. They became one under the blanket of stars.

When Demeter awoke, she could not find her daughter. She demanded an answer from the girl’s father, Zeus, and he only confirmed her worst fear. Persephone had gone into the underworld with Hades. Demeter began to weep. As she mourned the green world began to die. The leaves on the trees grew brown and cascaded to the ground, the flowers wilted and the grasses died. Soon, the world grew cold and bare and Demeter’s frozen tears blanketed the earth with snow.

Persephone and Hades lived happily in the underworld. The souls that passed through were enamored with the beautiful Queen and she was known for her thoughtfulness and mercy. The couple remained content until Zeus told Persephone of her mother’s sadness and how the earth was dying all around them. “This is terrible,” Persephone thought, “There is no reason for my mother to mourn. I am happy here.” But soon Persephone knew that she had to make the decision to return. Hades pled with her to stay, but she promised that she would merely console her mother and come back to him. “That is not enough,” he told her. “Your mother will not allow you to return. Here, eat these,” he handed her twelve seeds of the sacred pomegranate, Hera's own symbol of marriage and commitment. “If you eat these you must remain in the underworld.” Persephone took six of the juicy seeds and ate them. “Now,” she said, “I will spend the springtime with my mother, but I will return to you."  Hades held her tight and kissed her farewell. “Bright Blessings, my love.”

When Persephone returned from the underworld she found her mother weeping for her. “I have come back to you,” she said. Demeter rejoiced at the return of her beautiful daughter and brought life back to the barren earth.

And now, every year, Persephone returns to her husband at the Autumn Equinox and Demeter mourns her loss, only to celebrate again when Persephone returns at the spring equinox.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Persephone's Glade

A soft spring maid picking daffodils
Autumn wife and most dread Queen
A field of white sweet asphodel
A soft spring maid picking daffodils
Olympos high above the rolling hills
Halls of Hades in the world beneath
A soft spring maid picking daffodils
Autumn wife and most dread Queen