Thursday, March 27, 2008

Some Myth-Themed Poem Drafts

These are all old, but I want to start combing through some of the poem drafts I've posted here, so here's a re-posting of several myth-themed poems I've written.

The Bacchae

When the god of wine and revel
made dizzy the city's prince,
the omens darkly muttered
with a strange malevolence.

But the king kept to his folly;
he was slain by the godly bull
and carried home in his mother's arms.
Amen: the gods are cruel.

You are proud in your ways, O mortals!
Better it is to mourn
than to march through mocking streets
to where the beasts are torn.

You are vain with the vain cosmetics
by which you hide your soul;
you boast of your civic order,
but destruction is your goal.

You speak the name of Justice?
But Justice walks with a sword
to slit the throats of mortals
with a fate no charm can ward.

When your life is over --
when we see the path you've trod --
we will see not boasted glory,
but the mocking of the god.


You have heard that the Phoenix
dies the death of bright fire,
fierce flames of burning,
feeding mortal desire.
You have heard that fine feathers,
red-gold, are thus turned
to ash of black dust
when the Phoenix is burned,
that amid deathly ash
the egg of great price
breaks from the flame
that the Phoenix may rise.
You have heard of all this,
but have you heard that they say
that the Phoenix at morning
sings songs of the Way?
What wonderful songs!
None other compares
in sweetness and glory,
in order most fair!
For the truth is but this:
the Phoenix-made flame
is the falling of morals,
the mixing of names.
But when it comes forth
in a birthing of light,
the Way is returned,
the names are made right
by the voice of its singing,
beyond nightingales:
a sign placed to show us
the Way shall not fail!


Mountained is my love,
wearing holy fawn-skin,
singing as he slays the goat,
delighting in the flesh.

Mountained in Phrygia is my love,
Bromios, who dancing leads
by milk-rich, wine-flowing streams,
by nectar-wine of bees.


With incense-fume of pine torch,
fragrant on the fennel rod;
running, dancing, hair-streaming,
band-rousing, ever shouting:


Booming timbrels hymn the Bacchic god;
the Phrygian flute of Mother Rhea,
satyr-stolen, it blends with revel,
sweet-graced and most holy,

antheming the wild troops;
mounting up they band and revel,
mountained, they are light of foot,
gambolling like wild foals.



Osiris sleeps and dreams of death,
entombed in ebon halls of stone,
the death-blessed god on sacred throne,
and over gilded sands his breath
still seeks the signs of Isis' will.

And, in Egyptian starlight still
that shines in quiet on the sands,
it courses past the nomad-bands,
a honeyed wind that blows no ill,
pulsing with all hope's demands.

And Isis wanders through the lands
to seek the tombs and sacred throne,
to re-knit flesh to flesh and bone;
she takes the children in her hands
and makes them gods upon the flame.

The dead all have Osiris' name;
one soul goes up, one soul remains,
and on the Nile night-sent rains
will fall to heal the blind and lame
and raise the dead to grace.

Salme's Song

I will not love the night-lord,
nor marry the harried moon,
whose work is always pressing,
whose rising is too soon.

I will not love the sun-king;
his fire I cherish not;
he blights the land with drought
when his passions wax too hot.

But the star I take as lover
for he shines with gentle light;
his eyes are kind and loving
and steady through the night.

Starry youth and Salme
shall have nuptials sublime
and waltz on Harria's shores
until the end of time.


The blue flower blooms in the realm of Tapio,
where the tree-roots deeper than any mountain's grow
and the forest-tops are marching like the sea,
an endless and everlasting sea,
and the mead-paws dance in fields untouched by snow
where flowers bloom whose names nobody knows
on a hill whose name nobody knows.

The Cranes of Ibycus

Can blood-guilt scream to heaven, its cry unsated?
And can the gods be blind to living law?
Can murderers find solace by forgetting?
Has memory no more its tooth and claw?

Say no! The gods are watchful and most wary,
but step by step the deserving march to doom,
and in the sky, be it sun-bright or starry,
Nemesis will soar and Sekhmet's shadow loom.

And the cranes that fly so far in gentle peace
will bring to mind the murder that is done;
whatever form they take, what shape they wist,
they recall the darkness to the darkened one.

When deed is done, the sinner shuns the sky
for there the ruthless cranes on wings of judgment fly;
but though he cry for the mountains to hide his head,
the cranes still bear sure vengeance for the dead.


This torment of the wicked
is the comfort of the good;
that evil be not licit
but punished as it should;
that its pain and penal color
be the flourishing of the seed
implanted in the darkness
by the doer of the deed;
that conscience be not toothless,
but bear a whip and flail
so that when our justice falters
the Furies still prevail.

All-Father's Knowledge

Weird is the wyrd of man, and wild,
written on the stars with sacred stile,
carved on the ash of ages blessed,
graven on its leaves, which all confess
the truth to those who hang for nine --
nine days, nine nights, in death sublime.
Then opens the eye, the source of awe,
then wise becomes the Hanging God,
wise with lore of ancient runes,
wise in the ways of birth and doom.
A draught fresh-drawn from the prophet's well,
from which the poets drink their fill,
the scops who with their eddas dream
of things to come and things unseen,
will wake from slumber sleeping thoughts;
then wise becomes the prophet-God,
who gives an eye to be made wise,
who on the ash of ages dies.
The ravens from past the rainbow-bridge
with peircing eye for all things hid
go back and forth through all the lands --
of death, of elf, of god, of man;
through all the ages they, restless, roam
from root to crown to Father's throne,
his thought, his memory, turned to wing
and seeking out all things unseen.
But he sees in all, blessed or defiled,
that the strangest fate is the human child's.

Nine Days by Nine

Upon the tree I hang nine days by nine;
I seek the truth that stays and outruns time,
I seek the high sublimity that overrules
The passing of the age, the wildest words
That overcome destruction and decay.
Upon the tree I hang beyond the years,
The pain upon my side and in my hands,
A hanged man on the gallows, swinging wide,
Caught up in bitter gales, swung side to side,
And on the tree of ages, forest-thick and dark,
The runes and riddles grow, unread by men,
The foundation-markings of the girded yards
That hold all things in heaven and on earth.
Upon the tree I hang nine days by nine,
Reading words in runes that, line by line,
Now step in endless march before my eyes,
Unveiling every secret, laying bare
The nature of the world that I with care
Unravel in the riddles with patience slow and wise
In writings rushing past, nine days by nine.

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