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Tyler King Feb 2018
Orpheus, Orpheus
How you could charm the sun into rising,
How your father Apollo breathed fire into your divine mortal hands and watched with pride as you learned to make it sing,
They said that with a few strums of a lyre you could create life where there was only silence,
That you could move the trees to dance, the hills to laugh, the water to hum, the air itself to sway in sublime ecstasy,
I could forgive you then,
For thinking you could melt the frozen hearts of gods,
Pluck your love from the jaws of death,
And wake the dead to join you in song,

Eurydice, Eurydice
I know how you must have felt, swept up into something so glorious and beautiful,
To be entranced so completely you’re willing to ignore the warning signs, the prophesied doom and the hubris of men,
You lost yourself in those songs,
And they were all for you, every note he played bore your name and the whole world could only stand in envy
They said you were beautiful, a muse of the purest order,
And when you loved, you loved hard enough to shake the heavens and force them to pay attention,
I could forgive you, then,
For never seeing it coming,
The perfection shattered by the fangs of a snake,
Who has time, after all, to watch the ground,
When your heart has taken to the sky?

Orpheus, Orpheus,
How brave you must have felt, how romantic, strolling through the gates of the underworld with only your lyre and your heavy heart,
Confident that it was enough, that all the gods and monsters of this world could be bowed by the sheer force of your love and your melody,
And they were, Orpheus,
You drew tears from the burning gaze of Hades himself, as Persephone sighed in longing,
But you had a lesson to learn, Orpheus,
That the gods are cruel and men imperfect,
You were weak then, Orpheus, as we all must be weak,
Just steps from the light, you looked back to see your love ripped back into the world of shadows,
She had been your shadow all along, Orpheus
For all your beauty, all your power, you wavered in your faith, and doomed the both of you forever,
You, wandering the world eternal with your haunted heart and your mourning songs,
And she, trapped as a phantom too soon in the kingdom of the dead, always wondering why you couldn’t do it, why you couldn’t have just a little more faith,

Orpheus, Orpheus,
I know why you couldn’t do it,
I am just like you,
Held in the grip of fear, uncertain and desperate,
We’re all born that way, I think
Nervous energy faced with insurmountable odds,
Some of us ascend, overcome it all through supreme will and conviction,
Some of us descend, meet our devils where they live and lose the games they play,
But we all falter somewhere,
Even once, even one small mistake,
Sometimes that’s all it takes,
Orpheus, I can forgive you, then,
There’s not a soul alive who wouldn’t have looked back
Shreya Inks Feb 2015
Eurydice in her efforts to escape the satyr;
fell into a nest of vipers; suffered serpent bite,
Her body was discovered by Orpheus who played;
mournful songs when he saw her turning white.

All the Gods and Nymphs wept at his songs;
and they advised Orpheus to travel the underworld,
his music softened the hearts of Hades& Persephone;
who allowed Eurydice to return with him to upper world.

They kept a condition: he should walk in front of her;
and not look back until they both had reached the earth,
Orpheus accepted the condition and made his way;
Eurydice followed him, and continued to the girth.

In anxiety Orpheus turned back before they reached;
forgetting that both needed to be in the upper world,
Eurydice vanished and never came back;
Orpheus cried as he left her in the underworld.

At the end of his life, he disdained the worship of Gods;
A morning he went to the oracle to salute his God at dawn,
he was ripped to pieces by Maenads for not honoring Gods;
A woman killed him and his songs still played on and on.

Helicon sank underground when the women who killed Orpheus;

Orpheus Head on his Lyre
tried to wash her blood-stained hands in its waters,
After the death of Eurydice few threw sticks & stones at him;
music was so soulful, rocks & branches refused to be attackers.

His head and lyre, still singing mournful songs;
Lyre was carried to heaven by the Muses; placed among stars,
The Muses gathered up fragments of his body and buried them;
the Nightingale sang over his grave and ended love wars.

After river Sys flooded, his soul returned to the underworld;
where he was reunited at last with his beloved Eurydice,
but Eurydice was dead, and this grieved him so much that;
Orpheus committed suicide from his grief unable to find Eurydice.

© Shreya ♥
Poem is based on Orpheus & Eurydice, according to Greek mythology.
Vernarth says: “I was at the separation of the threshold of Archangelos and Tsambika, where I was introduced to the threshold of sub mythology, which came from a promontory of the high cusp, that intersect the portal of light between Archangelos and Tsambika. There was a great vertical mass of petrified air between the two units, as I approached I saw against the light of one towards the other, the supposed synoptic and optical circumstance of sub-mythology, which makes me the creation that abandoned all of us who have dealt with it all. A life with sword in hand. For this reason, we have not restructured ourselves as a "Creation and Genesis that dwells in the myth of the warrior who is defeated on his war bed, but winner of the war of Life as Peltasts." My democracy is to narrow the steps of credibility towards a narrowing of the resurrection in all and all of us who have never been at peace, by proposing the last energy of daring to follow the triumph of the democracy of the resurrection. Many remain in doubt and waiting, others follow, but the stubborn objection of creation makes us a mere vivifying objective to revive in the exam that writes everything and stores everything more than thousands of lives and scrolls that settle in its proscription Literary”

Replied Apostle Saint John: “The Derveni papyrus was a work in Central Macedonia, 10 km northwest of the Greek city of Thessaloniki, in Macedonia. 226 small burnt papyrus fragments were found, inside a bronze jug that also contained a gold crown and other funerary objects. In the dimension that has been able to instruct, he speaks to us of God and mysticism, but with hidden and allegorical suggestions, moving towards a representative monotheism, we have enough to assert about eloquent quotes from the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus and Orpheus. Being the son of Apollo and one of his muses, Calliope. According to the accounts, when he played his lyre, the beasts would calm down, and the men would gather to hear him and to rest their souls. Thus he fell in love with the beautiful Eurydice and managed to put the terrible Cerberus to sleep when he went down to the underworld to try to resurrect Eurydice. Orpheus was of Thracian origin; In his honor, the Orphic Mysteries were developed, musical rituals quite common in Ancient Greece, of which there is not much information, or their sources are not known”

Eurydice replies: “I read Orpheus's verses on his lips, which at length encouraged me, eager to hear more, but Orpheus turned off the lights of my curiosity, putting hidden ideas and allegories that crossed my doubts like ghosts that crossed before me in this hymn Orphic of Derveni. Orpheus was credited with abilities because with his lyre he was able to poke around with all the most wonderful melodies that humans had allegorically heard. That is how I fell in love with Orpheus and shortly after we were married. But sadly, I died shortly after getting married from a snake bite. Orpheus went into a hidden pain, until it was decided to go down to the very underworld in order to save me. And so it was, he went down to the underworld and once there he tried to take me back. But Hades wouldn't allow us. So Orpheus began to sing for Hades and me, until they appeared before him and allowed Orpheus to be taken away on one condition: He could not look at me until I was completely bathed in sunlight. We did so, and when we went outside Orpheus turned to see me. But he did not realize that one foot had stayed in the shadows so I disappeared into the darkness of the underworld and this time forever. Sad Orpheus perished in battle within a few weeks, but when he died and went to the underworld, he finally managed to be by my side, for life. Now I am in the light of the figurehead of the ship Eurydice, I am and I am the boatswain that watches and I carry this feat in the Vernarth memorial with me in the underworld supporting him. Now I appear for this creation reaching the everlasting preamble, so that in Teambika as a creation of the sub-Mythology in which I figure in this journey, with Vernarth always between we will intervene in the matrices that intersect in Archangelos and Tsambika, as a clear image that is revealed before me, like the perfect figure of perfection recreating itself in the genesis of a Marian world, judging myself to be eternally with the resurrected living”.
Derveni Papyrus
Kelly Bitangcol Sep 2016
I have always been fascinated by mythology. I remember seeing my older sisters with a greek mythology book, and wishing I could be in high school so I can know it already. I was interested in the mythical creatures, in the gods and goddesses, in the battles, and just like everyone, I was interested in the love stories. I wanted to learn it with passion for I heard it was the inspiration of almost all the modern literature that I love. I could still remember feeling excited to be in class and discuss it. And now that I have reached high school, and I also reached my dream of studying greek mythology and not only that, because I reached it with you. We learned about the titans, the gods and goddesses, the olympians, the monsters, the stories. We were both engrossed and captivated by it, that mythology was the only thing we ever talked about. We even related it to real life, we related people to the characters. Whenever we see a person we know, we would think of the character that best resembles them, and we will start calling them their characters that we decided them to be. We called our friend Athena, we called your cousin Apollo, we even called someone the Minotaur. And that’s what our teacher told us, that not because it’s fantasy that immediately means it cannot happen in real life. The stories there, are reality, the only difference is, they added magic into them. We loved greek mythology so much that we related it to everything. However I realised something, we related it to everything except to ourselves. So I asked you, “Who are we?”. You told me, “Baby, we’re no one there, for we will make our own mythology. We will make the greatest one, so beautiful that it would surpass the best literature of all time.” Your favourite one was Plato’s quote, you would never shut up telling me the story that “humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.” And you would always tell me, that you wished to tell Zeus you found yours already. I expected myself to love the romance most, for myself to have the love stories as my favourite. But instead, I loved the opposite,  I loved the tragedies.


I don’t know why, but I found myself loving the tragic stories. I found myself loving the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. The ultimate tragic love story, in which Orpheus would have brought Eurydice back to life if only he had done what Hades said. Orpheus went to the underworld to ask Hades to bring back Eurydice, but Hades had one condition, he should not look back while his wife was still in the dark, for that would undo everything he hoped for. He should wait for Eurydice to get into the light before he looked at her. But then, Orpheus couldn’t control himself, he looked at Eurydice and hugged her, then suddenly Eurydice was drawn back to the underworld.


And who would ever forget Pyramus and Thisbe? The star crossed lovers who had families who hated each other and whispered sweet nothings through a crack in the wall that separates their houses. And they decided to run away, but when Thisbe showed up under the mulberry tree, a ****** jawed lioness was there. So Thisbe ran, and just when Pyramus arrived, he saw the lioness ripping apart Thisbe’s shawl. Thinking that Thisbe died, Pyramus stabbed himself. And when Thisbe returned and figured out what happened, she stabbed herself too. To this day, the formerly white berries of the mulberry tree are stained red with the blood of these tragic lovers.


Here comes my favourite story of all, the myth of Icarus. Icarus and his father attempted to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax. Daedalus cautioned him that flying too near the sun would cause the wax to melt. And because of hubris, Icarus ignored his father’s instructions and flew too close to the sun. Then the wax in his wings melted and he fell into the sea.


When I was reading the stories, epiphany suddenly hit me. Perhaps the reason why I loved tragedies so much because we’re turning into one. I finally got the answer to my question when I asked you who we are. Maybe we are Orpheus and Eurydice, we loved each other too much that we would do everything just to be together. But we ignored all the warnings, we thought love was the only thing that really mattered. We never got to control our feelings and we forgot everything, because of that, we were separated from each other. Or we could also be Pyramus and Thisbe, we are the perfect definition of lovers who almost made it, who almost achieved happiness, who almost became the greatest lovers of all time but then we never became one, we became tragic ones. And darling, perhaps Icarus resembles us the most. We are both Icarus, our wings, are ourselves,  and love, is the sun. Everybody told us not to get too near the sun, for the wax in our wings will melt, we will lose our wings because we are too close to the thing that could save and destroy us both. And just like Icarus, we disobeyed the rules.  We flew too close to the sun, look at us now.

As we were walking out of each other’s lives, I realised something. We were not meant to create the greatest story of all time that it would top the best literature. We were never making our own mythology, because we were just bound to become another tragedy. Another tragedy that people will love, and I still don’t know why, but people tend to see something beautiful in it. And maybe, just maybe, people will also see something beautiful in our tragic story. But just like Orpheus and Eurydice, Pyramus and Thisbe, Icarus; one thing is for sure, my love. We will achieve a thing we both wanted,  **we will never be forgotten.
Angelique Jan 2018
be the orpheus to my eurydice
Love me with your songs that reach a wood nymph
dance ballets around my head with poems strung along
my heartstring that play your ballads
marry me in the woods that gather hush tone songs of
a happily ever after with you my dear orpheus
but when our happy ending doesn't quite reach
a tender heart beat do not fret
just search  the underworld for another chance
to find a joyous love with me
do not turn your head my beloved
for even if you cannot hear my soft footprints
ill always be behind you like a musical note
strung on your harp full of radiant strings
if you do not find love where you seek
you always have me Orpheus to where
our hearts meet in the tender green forest
where two lovers kiss quietly
beloved orpheus i will always be the song
to your beat and the poem to your heart
never stop looking for me in those places
where our connected hearts meet
Tawanda Mulalu Aug 2015
I would have rather been Orpheus,
travelling to various hells for you
and singing songs to save you
even though you couldn't save yourself:
stop looking back. The flames aren't worth it.
Let my eyes burn brighter than the abyss.
Just whatever you do don't turn your face
away Eurydice. Hades will have his Persephone
and you are not her.

It's better this way I guess. I would have looked
back at you and watched you crumble into
a shadowy pillar of salt as did the wife of Lot
when she looked back at *****. I am faithless,
which is why I cannot sing like Orpheus. I am faithless,
which is why I would have watched you melt into
a shadowy memory of the underworld even if I could.

Instead, I was a messenger of these strange myths.

Wings on my feet, I raced against the multitudinous
skylines of the worlds I do not inhabit, skipped across
volumes and volumes of rows and columns of planets and
stars written by dead old men and women. They spoke presently
of the voluminous presence their absence had created, and did so
without having known of the secrets of this absence when
they wrote about their respective presents. Presents conferred
to winged-feet wishful thinkers who spiral uncontrollably with their mouths
to sudden and dangerous depths: Every serious reader remembers
the time they stopped whispering controversies and started shouting them
without knowing that they were shouting them: Ideas are messy things
that don't need loudspeakers: Decibels violently shudder themselves out
of being the moment you mention to your mother that God
might not exist and Camus said so: Existence itself implodes outwards
like how plants produce seeds that make themselves when novels
start at their ends which are really their beginnings: Children
**** their mothers through birth: Boys with wings on their feet
take the library too seriously.

This is
          how
and
          where
I flew towards you without a chariot

and found you in your various hells, one book at a time,
and why I would have rather have been Orpheus
because at least then I could have sang you songs
before you ended up retreating back into your various
selves. It could have been my fault then for looking back.

It could have been,
   could have been,
   could have been
you that was Orpheus. You who looked back.
You being the reason that I crumbled into a pillar of
shadow and salt because, as did Lot's wife, I looked back.

We both did, and watched the whole world invert itself
on its axis, then turn and twist and shift itself
into superimposed images and shapes and dreams
that changed you from muse to poet and
dream to dreamer
and Eurydice to Orpheus
and to Lot then his wife
and to this: which you always were.

              Those wings on your feet: When
the librarians changed the positions of the bookshelves-
and therefore our imaginations: our movements
and stanzas and scenes and days and nights-
               Those wings on your feet: When
that happened they must have stopped fluttering
for a second. I tried flying again and fell.

I haven't been much of a messenger since.
Mess, mess and more mess I guess.
Preech Aug 2012
A boat,
a world.
Sailing unseen
seas. Gathering
legendary creatures.
Mythical society
contained within a sailboat. One
world hidden within another, blind;
no normal man can see beneath. Inspect,
titans fire cannons, Charon runs sick bay.
Lady Lorely has all webbed hands on deck, the blue
men of the Minch guard the mighty Orpheus. Quiz
you they will on will power and skill, all mortal men undone.
Every battle is won by The Orpheus, without war.
stopdoopy Aug 2018
I wish to gaze upon thee, look at the expanse of virtue.

You truly are a rival for Aphrodite.

An ethereal being.

I am but a priestess, at your alter, worshipping.

If I could meet those eyes, ghost fingers over satin skin, card through sleek locks, then surely I'd be blessed.

For you I'd do as Orpheus for Eurydice, without looking back.

To love a goddess such as yourself is eternal.
I really wanted to write about Hatshepsut and her lover instead but either I found the wrong woman pharaoh or I dreamt the whole thing I've read about her lover before so... couldn't do that. What I remember reading was that her successor started destroying things she's built and having her name erased off of things which is essential for the afterlife, so her lover broke into her tomb to write her name, thus ruining his own chance at an afterlife because desecrating a resting place was a huge no-no. So yeah Idk where I read that or if I did but that's the idea.

So I had to settle on a couple who's names I could remember/actually look up their story and here it is.


Just a heads up because it pertains to a poem coming up, I wrote this months ago.
Orpheus with his lute made trees
And the mountain tops that freeze
  Bow themselves when he did sing:
To his music plants and flowers
Ever sprung; as sun and showers
  There had made a lasting spring.

Every thing that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
  Hung their heads and then lay by.
In sweet music is such art,
  Killing care and grief of heart
  Fall asleep, or hearing, die.
Ason May 2017
I was not born of god and muse.
Pictures of virtuosic health  
captured in epic poetry
that I don’t want to write.

The music I make charms my world.
Trees and rocks
obey not the wind and current,
but the meter of my songs.

You too fell for tricks of snake,
though my tune called your name
long before they evaded my coil.

Forgive me, I won’t question your sleep below.
For even the rules of your warden dictate
you can’t look forward
while you’re looking back.

I could be your Orpheus.
Which is to say that even after death
you won’t get rid of me.

I could be your Orpheus,
but with the way his story goes
wouldn’t you say I’m probably
more like his lyre.
David Prince May 2016
The soul speaks only in whispers now
As it passes through the veil
Stay beyond the reach of death somehow
On your journey to prevail

To the cradle of Morpheus
The keeper of your dreams
Much like the journey of Orpheus
You traverse Hades streams

The soul creeps slowly through the gates
As it enters the world below
Stay beyond the eye of the all seeing fates
If back home you hope to go

To the cradle of Morpheus
The keeper of lost things
Much like the journey of Orpheus
Who played upon his strings

The soul silently to the cradle does sneak
As it peers at the sleeper within
Beyond the reach of the living world is what you seek
Climb in the cradle of Sleep and his twin

In the cradle of Morpheus
The keeper and his twin
Much like the story of Orpheus
You may not win

The soul climbs in and is filled with fear
As it hears that silent breath
Beyond the veil these twins draw near
In the cradle you will find Sleep and his brother Death

In the cradle of Morpheus
The keeper of lost life
Much like the story Orpheus
The man who lost his wife
Morpheus and Thanatos are two twin deity in Greek myth presiding over sleep and death respectively. Often in art they are confused with Eros due all three having wings
Michael R Burch Mar 2020
What the Poet Sees
by Michael R. Burch

What the poet sees,
he sees as a swimmer
~~~~underwater~~~~
watching the shoreline blur
sees through his breath’s weightless bubbles ...
Both worlds grow obscure.

Published by ByLine, Mandrake Poetry Review, Poetically Speaking, E Mobius Pi, Underground Poets, Little Brown Poetry, Triplopia, Poetic Ponderings, Poem Kingdom, PW Review, Muse Apprentice Guild, Mindful of Poetry, Poetry on Demand, Poet’s Haven, Famous Poets and Poems, Bewildering Stories, Neovictorian/Cochlea

Keywords/Tags: Poet, poetic vision, sight, seeing, swimmer, underwater, breath, bubbles, blur, blurry, blurred, blurring, obscure, obscured, obscuring

How valiant he lies tonight: great is his Monument!
Yet Ares cares not, neither does War relent.
by Anacreon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Here he lies in state tonight: great is his Monument!
Yet Ares cares not, neither does War relent.
by Anacreon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Yes, bring me Homer’s lyre, no doubt,
but first yank the bloodstained strings out!
by Anacreon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Here we find Anacreon,
an elderly lover of boys and wine.
His harp still sings in lonely Acheron
as he thinks of the lads he left behind ...
by Anacreon or the Anacreontea, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Mariner, do not ask whose tomb this may be,
But go with good fortune: I wish you a kinder sea.
Michael R. Burch, after Plato

We who left behind the Aegean’s bellowings
Now sleep peacefully here on the mid-plains of Ecbatan:
Farewell, dear Athens, nigh to Euboea,
Farewell, dear sea!
Michael R. Burch, after Plato

Passerby,
Tell the Spartans we lie
Lifeless at Thermopylae:
Dead at their word,
Obedient to their command.
Have they heard?
Do they understand?
Michael R. Burch, after Simonides

Does my soul abide in heaven, or hell?
Only the sea gulls in their high, lonely circuits may tell.
Michael R. Burch, after Glaucus

They observed our fearful fetters,
braved the overwhelming darkness.
Now we extol their excellence:
bravely, they died for us.
Michael R. Burch, after Mnasalcas

Blame not the gale, nor the inhospitable sea-gulf, nor friends’ tardiness,
Mariner! Just man’s foolhardiness.
Michael R. Burch, after Leonidas of Tarentum

Be ashamed, O mountains and seas:
that these valorous men lack breath.
Assume, like pale chattels,
an ashen silence at death.
Michael R. Burch, after Parmenio

These men earned a crown of imperishable glory,
Nor did the maelstrom of death obscure their story.
Michael R. Burch, after Simonides

Stranger, flee!
But may Fortune grant you all the prosperity
she denied me.
Michael R. Burch, after Leonidas of Tarentum

Everywhere the sea is the sea, the dead are the dead.
What difference to me―where I rest my head?
The sea knows I’m buried.
Michael R. Burch, after Antipater of Sidon

I lie by stark Icarian rocks
and only speak when the sea talks.
Please tell my dear father that I gave up the ghost
on the Aegean coast.
Michael R. Burch, after Theatetus

Here I lie dead and sea-enclosed Cyzicus shrouds my bones.
Faretheewell, O my adoptive land that reared and nurtured me;
once again I take rest at your breast.
Michael R. Burch, after Erycius

I am loyal to you master, even in the grave:
Just as you now are death’s slave.
Michael R. Burch, after Dioscorides

Stripped of her stripling, if asked, she’d confess:
“I am now less than nothingness.”
Michael R. Burch, after Diotimus

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.
Michael R. Burch, Epitaph for a Palestinian Child

Sail on, mariner, sail on,
for while we were perishing,
greater ships sailed on.
Michael R. Burch, after Theodorides

All this vast sea is his Monument.
Where does he lie―whether heaven, or hell?
Perhaps when the gulls repent―
their shriekings may tell.
Michael R. Burch, after Glaucus

His white bones lie bleaching on some inhospitable shore:
a son lost to his father, his tomb empty; the poor-
est beggars have happier mothers!
Michael R. Burch, after Damegtus

A mother only as far as the birth pangs,
my life cut short at the height of life’s play:
only eighteen years old, so brief was my day.
Michael R. Burch, after an unknown Greek poet

Having never earned a penny,
nor seen a bridal gown slip to the floor,
still I lie here with the love of many,
to be the love of yet one more.
Michael R. Burch, after an unknown Greek poet

Little I knew―a child of five―
of what it means to be alive
and all life’s little thrills;
but little also―(I was glad not to know)―
of life’s great ills.
Michael R. Burch, after Lucian

Pity this boy who was beautiful, but died.
Pity his monument, overlooking this hillside.
Pity the world that bore him, then foolishly survived.
Michael R. Burch, after an unknown Greek poet

Insatiable Death! I was only a child!
Why did you ****** me away, in my infancy,
from those destined to love me?
Michael R. Burch, after an unknown Greek poet

Tell Nicagoras that Strymonias
at the setting of the Kids
lost his.
Michael R. Burch, after Nicaenetus

Here Saon, son of Dicon, now rests in holy sleep:
say not that the good die young, friend,
lest gods and mortals weep.
Michael R. Burch, after Callimachus

The light of a single morning
exterminated the sacred offspring of Lysidice.
Nor do the angels sing.
Nor do we seek the gods’ advice.
This is the grave of Nicander’s lost children.
We merely weep at its bitter price.
Michael R. Burch, after an unknown Greek poet

Pluto, delighting in tears,
why did you bring our son, Ariston,
to the laughterless abyss of death?
Why―why?―did the gods grant him breath,
if only for seven years?
Michael R. Burch, after an unknown Greek poet

Heartlessly this grave
holds our nightingale speechless;
now she lies here like a stone,
who voice was so marvelous;
while sunlight illumining dust
proves the gods all reachless,
as our prayers prove them also
unhearing or beseechless.
Michael R. Burch, after an unknown Greek poet

I, Homenea, the chattering bright sparrow,
lie here in the hollow of a great affliction,
leaving tears to Atimetus
and all scattered―that great affection.
Michael R. Burch, after an unknown Greek poet

We mourn Polyanthus, whose wife
placed him newly-wedded in an unmarked grave,
having received his luckless corpse
back from the green Aegean wave
that deposited his fleshless skeleton
gruesomely in the harbor of Torone.
Michael R. Burch, after Phaedimus

Once sweetest of the workfellows,
our shy teller of tall tales
―fleet Crethis!―who excelled
at every childhood game . . .
now you sleep among long shadows
where everyone’s the same . . .
Michael R. Burch, after Callimachus

Although I had to leave the sweet sun,
only nineteen―Diogenes, hail!―
beneath the earth, let’s have lots more fun:
till human desire seems weak and pale.
Michael R. Burch, after an unknown Greek poet

Though they were steadfast among spears, dark Fate destroyed them
as they defended their native land, rich in sheep;
now Ossa’s dust seems all the more woeful, where they now sleep.
Michael R. Burch, after Aeschylus

Aeschylus, graybeard, son of Euphorion,
died far away in wheat-bearing Gela;
still, the groves of Marathon may murmur of his valor
and the black-haired Mede, with his mournful clarion.
Michael R. Burch, after Aeschylus

Now his voice is prisoned in the silent pathways of the night:
his owner’s faithful Maltese . . .
but will he still bark again, on sight?
Michael R. Burch, after Tymnes

Poor partridge, poor partridge, lately migrated from the rocks;
our cat bit off your unlucky head; my offended heart still balks!
I put you back together again and buried you, so unsightly!
May the dark earth cover you heavily: heavily, not lightly . . .
so she shan’t get at you again!
Michael R. Burch, after Agathias

Wert thou, O Artemis,
overbusy with thy beast-slaying hounds
when the Beast embraced me?
Michael R. Burch, after Diodorus of Sardis

Dead as you are, though you lie still as stone,
huntress Lycas, my great Thessalonian hound,
the wild beasts still fear your white bones;
craggy Pelion remembers your valor,
splendid Ossa, the way you would bound
and bay at the moon for its whiteness,
bellowing as below we heard valleys resound.
And how brightly with joy you would canter and run
the strange lonely peaks of high Cithaeron!
Michael R. Burch, after Simonides

Constantina, inconstant one!
Once I thought your name beautiful
but I was a fool
and now you are more bitter to me than death!
You flee someone who loves you
with baited breath
to pursue someone who’s untrue.
But if you manage to make him love you,
tomorrow you'll flee him too!
Michael R. Burch, after Macedonius

Not Rocky Trachis,
nor the thirsty herbage of Dryophis,
nor this albescent stone
with its dark blue lettering shielding your white bones,
nor the wild Icarian sea dashing against the steep shingles
of Doliche and Dracanon,
nor the empty earth,
nor anything essential of me since birth,
nor anything now mingles
here with the perplexing absence of you,
with what death forces us to abandon . . .
Michael R. Burch, after Euphorion

We who left the thunderous surge of the Aegean
of old, now lie here on the mid-plain of Ecbatan:
farewell, dear Athens, nigh to Euboea,
farewell, dear sea!
Michael R. Burch, after Plato

My friend found me here,
a shipwrecked corpse on the beach.
He heaped these strange boulders above me.
Oh, how he would wail
that he “loved” me,
with many bright tears for his own calamitous life!
Now he sleeps with my wife
and flits like a gull in a gale
―beyond reach―
while my broken bones bleach.
Michael R. Burch, after Callimachus

Cloud-capped Geraneia, cruel mountain!
If only you had looked no further than Ister and Scythian
Tanais, had not aided the surge of the Scironian
sea’s wild-spurting fountain
filling the dark ravines of snowy Meluriad!
But now he is dead:
a chill corpse in a chillier ocean―moon led―
and only an empty tomb now speaks of the long, windy voyage ahead.
Michael R. Burch, after Simonides


Erinna Epigrams

This portrait is the work of sensitive, artistic hands.
See, my dear Prometheus, you have human equals!
For if whoever painted this girl had only added a voice,
she would have been Agatharkhis entirely.
by Erinna, translation by Michael R. Burch

You, my tall Columns, and you, my small Urn,
the receptacle of Hades’ tiny pittance of ash―
remember me to those who pass by
my grave, as they dash.
Tell them my story, as sad as it is:
that this grave sealed a young bride’s womb;
that my name was Baucis and Telos my land;
and that Erinna, my friend, etched this poem on my Tomb.
by Erinna, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Excerpts from “Distaff”
by Erinna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

… the moon rising …
      … leaves falling …
           … waves lapping a windswept shore …
… and our childish games, Baucis, do you remember? ...
... Leaping from white horses,
running on reckless feet through the great courtyard.  
“You’re it!’ I cried, ‘You’re the Tortoise now!”
But when your turn came to pursue your pursuers,
you darted beyond the courtyard,
dashed out deep into the waves,
splashing far beyond us …
… My poor Baucis, these tears I now weep are your warm memorial,
these traces of embers still smoldering in my heart
for our silly amusements, now that you lie ash …
… Do you remember how, as girls,
we played at weddings with our dolls,
pretending to be brides in our innocent beds? ...
... How sometimes I was your mother,
allotting wool to the weaver-women,
calling for you to unreel the thread? ...
… Do you remember our terror of the monster Mormo
with her huge ears, her forever-flapping tongue,
her four slithering feet, her shape-shifting face? ...
... Until you mother called for us to help with the salted meat ...
... But when you mounted your husband’s bed,
dearest Baucis, you forgot your mothers’ warnings!
Aphrodite made your heart forgetful ...
... Desire becomes oblivion ...
... Now I lament your loss, my dearest friend.
I can’t bear to think of that dark crypt.
I can’t bring myself to leave the house.
I refuse to profane your corpse with my tearless eyes.
I refuse to cut my hair, but how can I mourn with my hair unbound?
I blush with shame at the thought of you! …
... But in this dark house, O my dearest Baucis,
My deep grief is ripping me apart.
Wretched Erinna! Only nineteen,
I moan like an ancient crone, eyeing this strange distaff ...
O *****! . . . O Hymenaeus! . . .
Alas, my poor Baucis!

On a Betrothed Girl
by Errina
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I sing of Baucis the bride.
Observing her tear-stained crypt
say this to Death who dwells underground:
"Thou art envious, O Death!"
Her vivid monument tells passers-by
of the bitter misfortune of Baucis―
how her father-in-law burned the poor ******* a pyre
lit by bright torches meant to light her marriage train home.
While thou, O Hymenaeus, transformed her harmonious bridal song into a chorus of wailing dirges.
*****! O Hymenaeus!


Roman Epigrams

Wall, we're astonished that you haven't collapsed,
since you're holding up verses so prolapsed!
Ancient Roman graffiti, translation by Michael R. Burch

Ibykos Fragment 286, Circa 564 B.C.
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come spring, the grand
apple trees stand
watered by a gushing river
where the maidens’ uncut flowers shiver
and the blossoming grape vine swells
in the gathering shadows.
Unfortunately
for me
Eros never rests
but like a Thracian tempest
ablaze with lightning
emanates from Aphrodite;
the results are frightening―
black,
bleak,
astonishing,
violently jolting me from my soles
to my soul.

Originally published by The Chained Muse


Elegy for a little girl, lost
by Michael R. Burch

. . . qui laetificat juventutem meam . . .
She was the joy of my youth,
and now she is gone.
. . . requiescat in pace . . .
May she rest in peace.
. . . amen . . .
Amen.


Birdsong
by Rumi
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Birdsong relieves
my deepest griefs:
now I'm just as ecstatic as they,
but with nothing to say!
Please universe,
rehearse
your poetry
through me!


To the boy Elis
by Georg Trakl
translation by Michael R. Burch

Elis, when the blackbird cries from the black forest,
it announces your downfall.
Your lips sip the rock-spring's blue coolness.

Your brow sweats blood
recalling ancient myths
and dark interpretations of birds' flight.

Yet you enter the night with soft footfalls;
the ripe purple grapes hang suspended
as you wave your arms more beautifully in the blueness.

A thornbush crackles;
where now are your moonlike eyes?
How long, oh Elis, have you been dead?

A monk dips waxed fingers
into your body's hyacinth;
Our silence is a black abyss

from which sometimes a docile animal emerges
slowly lowering its heavy lids.
A black dew drips from your temples:

the lost gold of vanished stars.


W. S. Rendra translations

SONNET
by W. S. Rendra
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Best wishes for an impending deflowering.
Yes, I understand: you will never be mine.
I am resigned to my undeserved fate.
I contemplate
irrational numbers―complex & undefined.
And yet I wish love might ... ameliorate ...
such negative numbers, dark and unsigned.
But at least I can’t be held responsible
for disappointing you. No cause to elate.
Still, I am resigned to my undeserved fate.
The gods have spoken. I can relate.
How can this be, when all it makes no sense?
I was born too soon―such was my fate.
You must choose another, not half of who I AM.
Be happy with him when you consummate.


THE WORLD'S FIRST FACE
by W. S. Rendra
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Illuminated by the pale moonlight
the groom carries his bride
up the hill―
both of them naked,
both consisting of nothing but themselves.

As in all beginnings
the world is naked,
empty, free of deception,
dark with unspoken explanations―
a silence that extends
to the limits of time.

Then comes light,
life, the animals and man.

As in all beginnings
everything is naked,
empty, open.

They're both young,
yet both have already come a long way,
passing through the illusions of brilliant dawns,
of skies illuminated by hope,
of rivers intimating contentment.

They have experienced the sun's warmth,
drenched in each other's sweat.

Here, standing by barren reefs,
they watch evening fall
bringing strange dreams
to a bed arrayed with resplendent coral necklaces.

They lift their heads to view
trillions of stars arrayed in the sky.
The universe is their inheritance:
stars upon stars upon stars,
more than could ever be extinguished.

Illuminated by the pale moonlight
the groom carries his bride
up the hill―
both of them naked,
to recreate the world's first face.


Brother Iran
by Michael R. Burch

for the poets of Iran

Brother Iran, I feel your pain.
I feel it as when the Turk fled Spain.
As the Jew fled, too, that constricting span,
I feel your pain, Brother Iran.

Brother Iran, I know you are noble!
I too fear Hiroshima and Chernobyl.
But though my heart shudders, I have a plan,
and I know you are noble, Brother Iran.

Brother Iran, I salute your Poets!
your Mathematicians!, all your great Wits!
O, come join the earth's great Caravan.
We'll include your Poets, Brother Iran.

Brother Iran, I love your Verse!
Come take my hand now, let's rehearse
the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
For I love your Verse, Brother Iran.

Bother Iran, civilization's Flower!
How high flew your spires in man's early hours!
Let us build them yet higher, for that's my plan,
civilization's first flower, Brother Iran.


Passionate One
by Michael R. Burch

Love of my life,
light of my morning―
arise, brightly dawning,
for you are my sun.

Give me of heaven
both manna and leaven―
desirous Presence,
Passionate One.


In My House
by Michael R. Burch

When you were in my house
you were not free―
in chains bound.

Manifest Destiny?

I was wrong;
my plantation burned to the ground.
I was wrong.
This is my song,
this is my plea:
I was wrong.

When you are in my house,
now, I am not free.
I feel the song
hurling itself back at me.
We were wrong.
This is my history.

I feel my tongue
stilting accordingly.

We were wrong;
brother, forgive me.


faith(less)
by Michael R. Burch

Those who believed
and Those who misled
lie together at last
in the same narrow bed

and if god loved Them more
for Their strange lack of doubt,
he kept it well hidden
till he snuffed Them out.


Habeas Corpus
by Michael R. Burch

from “Songs of the Antinatalist”

I have the results of your DNA analysis.
If you want to have children, this may induce paralysis.
I wish I had good news, but how can I lie?
Any offspring you have are guaranteed to die.
It wouldn’t be fair―I’m sure you’ll agree―
to sentence kids to death, so I’ll waive my fee.



Bittersight
by Michael R. Burch

for Abu al-Ala Al-Ma'arri, an ancient antinatalist poet

To be plagued with sight
in the Land of the Blind,
—to know birth is death
and that Death is kind—
is to be flogged like Eve
(stripped, sentenced and fined)
because evil is “good”
as some “god” has defined.



veni, vidi, etc.
by Michael R. Burch

the last will and testament of a preemie, from “Songs of the Antinatalist”

i came, i saw, i figured
it was better to be transfigured,
so rather than cross my Rubicon
i fled to the Great Beyond.
i bequeath my remains, so small,
to Brutus, et al.



Paradoxical Ode to Antinatalism
by Michael R. Burch

from “Songs of the Antinatalist”

A stay on love
would end death’s hateful sway,
someday.

A stay on love
would thus be love,
I say.

Be true to love
and thus end death’s
fell sway!



Lighten your tread:
The ground beneath your feet is composed of the dead.

Walk slowly here and always take great pains
Not to trample some departed saint's remains.

And happiest here is the hermit with no hand
In making sons, who dies a childless man.

Abu al-Ala Al-Ma'arri (973-1057), antinatalist Shyari
loose translation by Michael R. Burch



There were antinatalist notes in Homer, around 3,000 years ago...

For the gods have decreed that unfortunate mortals must suffer, while they remain sorrowless. — Homer, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

It is best not to be born or, having been born, to pass on as swiftly as possible.—attributed to Homer, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

One of the first great voices to directly question whether human being should give birth was that of Sophocles, around 2,500 years ago...

Not to have been born is best,
and blessed
beyond the ability of words to express.
—Sophocles, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

It’s a hundred times better not be born;
but if we cannot avoid the light,
the path of least harm is swiftly to return
to death’s eternal night!
—Sophocles, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Keywords/Tags: birth, control, procreation, childbearing, children,  antinatalist, antinatalism, contraception



Shock
by Michael R. Burch

It was early in the morning of the forming of my soul,
in the dawning of desire, with passion at first bloom,
with lightning splitting heaven to thunder's blasting roll
and a sense of welling fire and, perhaps, impending doom―
that I cried out through the tumult of the raging storm on high
for shelter from the chaos of the restless, driving rain ...
and the voice I heard replying from a rift of bleeding sky
was mine, I'm sure, and, furthermore, was certainly insane.


evol-u-shun
by Michael R. Burch

does GOD adore the Tyger
while it’s ripping ur lamb apart?

does GOD applaud the Plague
while it’s eating u à la carte?

does GOD admire ur intelligence
while u pray that IT has a heart?

does GOD endorse the Bible
you blue-lighted at k-mart?


Deor's Lament (circa the 10th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Weland endured the agony of exile:
an indomitable smith wracked by grief.
He suffered countless sorrows;
indeed, such sorrows were his ***** companions
in that frozen island dungeon
where Nithad fettered him:
so many strong-but-supple sinew-bands
binding the better man.
That passed away; this also may.

Beadohild mourned her brothers' deaths,
bemoaning also her own sad state
once she discovered herself with child.
She knew nothing good could ever come of it.
That passed away; this also may.

We have heard the Geat's moans for Matilda,
his lovely lady, waxed limitless,
that his sorrowful love for her
robbed him of regretless sleep.
That passed away; this also may.

For thirty winters Theodric ruled
the Mæring stronghold with an iron hand;
many acknowledged his mastery and moaned.
That passed away; this also may.

We have heard too of Ermanaric's wolfish ways,
of how he cruelly ruled the Goths' realms.
That was a grim king! Many a warrior sat,
full of cares and maladies of the mind,
wishing constantly that his crown might be overthrown.
That passed away; this also may.

If a man sits long enough, sorrowful and anxious,
bereft of joy, his mind constantly darkening,
soon it seems to him that his troubles are limitless.
Then he must consider that the wise Lord
often moves through the earth
granting some men honor, glory and fame,
but others only shame and hardship.
This I can say for myself:
that for awhile I was the Heodeninga's scop,
dear to my lord. My name was Deor.
For many winters I held a fine office,
faithfully serving a just king. But now Heorrenda
a man skilful in songs, has received the estate
the protector of warriors had promised me.
That passed away; this also may.


The Temple Hymns of Enheduanna
with modern English translations by Michael R. Burch

Lament to the Spirit of War
by Enheduanna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You hack down everything you see, War God!

Rising on fearsome wings
you rush to destroy our land:
raging like thunderstorms,
howling like hurricanes,
screaming like tempests,
thundering, raging, ranting, drumming,
whiplashing whirlwinds!

Men falter at your approaching footsteps.
Tortured dirges scream on your lyre of despair.

Like a fiery Salamander you poison the land:
growling over the earth like thunder,
vegetation collapsing before you,
blood gushing down mountainsides.

Spirit of hatred, greed and vengeance!
******* of heaven and earth!
Your ferocious fire consumes our land.
Whipping your stallion
with furious commands,
you impose our fates.

You triumph over all human rites and prayers.
Who can explain your tirade,
why you carry on so?


Temple Hymn 15
to the Gishbanda Temple of Ningishzida
by Enheduanna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Most ancient and terrible shrine,
set deep in the mountain,
dark like a mother's womb ...

Dark shrine,
like a mother's wounded breast,
blood-red and terrifying ...

Though approaching through a safe-seeming field,
our hair stands on end as we near you!

Gishbanda,
like a neck-stock,
like a fine-eyed fish net,
like a foot-shackled prisoner's manacles ...
your ramparts are massive,
like a trap!

But once we’re inside,
as the sun rises,
you yield widespread abundance!

Your prince
is the pure-handed priest of Inanna, heaven's Holy One,
Lord Ningishzida!

Oh, see how his thick, lustrous hair
cascades down his back!

Oh Gishbanda,
he has built this beautiful temple to house your radiance!
He has placed his throne upon your dais!


The Exaltation of Inanna: Opening Lines and Excerpts
Nin-me-šara by Enheduanna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lady of all divine powers!
Lady of the resplendent light!
Righteous Lady adorned in heavenly radiance!
Beloved Lady of An and Uraš!
Hierodule of An, sun-adorned and bejeweled!
Heaven’s Mistress with the holy diadem,
Who loves the beautiful headdress befitting the office of her own high priestess!

Powerful Mistress, seizer of the seven divine powers!
My Heavenly Lady, guardian of the seven divine powers!
You have seized the seven divine powers!
You hold the divine powers in your hand!
You have gathered together the seven divine powers!
You have clasped the divine powers to your breast!
You have flooded the valleys with venom, like a viper;
all vegetation vanishes when you thunder like Iškur!
You have caused the mountains to flood the valleys!
When you roar like that, nothing on earth can withstand you!
Like a flood descending on floodplains, O Powerful One, you will teach foreigners to fear Inanna!
You have given wings to the storm, O Beloved of Enlil!
The storms do your bidding, blasting the unbelievers!
Foreign cities cower at the chaos You cause!
Entire countries cower in dread of Your deadly South Wind!
Men cower before you in their anguished implications,
raising their pitiful outcries,
weeping and wailing, beseeching Your benevolence with many wild lamentations!
But in the van of battle, everything falls before You, O Mighty Queen!
My Queen,
You are all-conquering, all-devouring!
You continue Your attacks like relentless storms!
You howl louder than the howling storms!
You thunder louder than Iškur!
You moan louder than the mournful winds!
Your feet never tire from trampling Your enemies!
You produce much wailing on the lyres of lamentations!
My Queen,
all the Anunna, the mightiest Gods,
fled before Your approach like fluttering bats!
They could not stand in Your awesome Presence
nor behold Your awesome Visage!
Who can soothe Your infuriated heart?
Your baleful heart is beyond being soothed!
Uncontrollable Wild Cow, elder daughter of Sin,
O Majestic Queen, greater than An,
who has ever paid You enough homage?
O Life-Giving Goddess, possessor of all powers,
Inanna the Exalted!
Merciful, Live-Giving Mother!
Inanna, the Radiant of Heart!
I have exalted You in accordance with Your power!
I have bowed before You in my holy garb,
I the En, I Enheduanna!
Carrying my masab-basket, I once entered and uttered my joyous chants ...
But now I no longer dwell in Your sanctuary.
The sun rose and scorched me.
Night fell and the South Wind overwhelmed me.
My laughter was stilled and my honey-sweet voice grew strident.
My joy became dust.
O Sin, King of Heaven, how bitter my fate!
To An, I declared: An will deliver me!
I declared it to An: He will deliver me!
But now the kingship of heaven has been seized by Inanna,
at Whose feet the floodplains lie.
Inanna the Exalted,
who has made me tremble together with all Ur!
Stay Her anger, or let Her heart be soothed by my supplications!
I, Enheduanna will offer my supplications to Inanna,
my tears flowing like sweet intoxicants!
Yes, I will proffer my tears and my prayers to the Holy Inanna,
I will greet Her in peace ...
O My Queen, I have exalted You,
Who alone are worthy to be exalted!
O My Queen, Beloved of An,
I have laid out Your daises,
set fire to the coals,
conducted the rites,
prepared Your nuptial chamber.
Now may Your heart embrace me!
These are my innovations,
O Mighty Queen, that I made for You!
What I composed for You by the dark of night,
The cantor will chant by day.
Now Inanna’s heart has been restored,
and the day became favorable to Her.
Clothed in beauty, radiant with joy,
she carried herself like the elegant moonlight.
Now to the Noble Hierodule,
to the Wrecker of foreign lands
presented by An with the seven divine powers,
and to my Queen garbed in the radiance of heaven ...
O Inanna, praise!


Temple Hymn 7: an Excerpt
to the Kesh Temple of Ninhursag
by Enheduanna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

O, high-situated Kesh,
form-shifting summit,
inspiring fear like a venomous viper!

O, Lady of the Mountains,
Ninhursag’s house was constructed on a terrifying site!

O, Kesh, like holy Aratta: your womb dark and deep,
your walls high-towering and imposing!

O, great lion of the wildlands stalking the high plains! ...


Temple Hymn 17: an Excerpt
to the Badtibira Temple of Dumuzi
by Enheduanna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

O, house of jeweled lapis illuminating the radiant bed
in the peace-inducing palace of our Lady of the Steppe!


Temple Hymn 22: an Excerpt
to the Sirara Temple of Nanshe
by Enheduanna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

O, house, you wild cow!
Made to conjure signs of the Divine!
You arise, beautiful to behold,
bedecked for your Mistress!


Temple Hymn 26: an Excerpt
to the Zabalam Temple of Inanna
by Enheduanna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

O house illuminated by beams of bright light,
dressed in shimmering stone jewels,
awakening the world to awe!


Temple Hymn 42: an Excerpt
to the Eresh Temple of Nisaba
by Enheduanna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

O, house of brilliant stars
bright with lapis stones,
you illuminate all lands!

...

The person who put this tablet together
is Enheduanna.
My king: something never created before,
did she not give birth to it?


Villanelle: Hangovers
by Michael R. Burch

We forget that, before we were born,
our parents had “lives” of their own,
ran drunk in the streets, or half-******.

Yes, our parents had lives of their own
until we were born; then, undone,
they were buying their parents gravestones

and finding gray hairs of their own
(because we were born lacking some
of their curious habits, but soon

would certainly get them). Half-******,
we watched them dig graves of their own.
Their lives would be over too soon

for their curious habits to bloom
in us (though our children were born
nine months from that night on the town

when, punch-drunk in the streets or half-******,
we first proved we had lives of our own).


Happily Never After (the Second Curse of the ***** Toad)
by Michael R. Burch

He did not think of love of Her at all
frog-plangent nights, as moons engoldened roads
through crumbling stonewalled provinces, where toads
(nee princes) ruled in chinks and grew so small
at last to be invisible. He smiled
(the fables erred so curiously), and thought
bemusedly of being reconciled
to human flesh, because his heart was not
incapable of love, but, being cursed
a second time, could only love a toad’s . . .
and listened as inflated frogs rehearsed
cheekbulging tales of anguish from green moats . . .
and thought of her soft croak, her skin fine-warted,
his anemic flesh, and how true love was thwarted.


Haunted
by Michael R. Burch

Now I am here
and thoughts of my past mistakes are my brethren.
I am withering
and the sweetness of your memory is like a tear.

Go, if you will,
for the ache in my heart is its hollowness
and the flaw in my soul is its shallowness;
there is nothing to fill.

Take what you can;
I have nothing left.
And when you are gone, I will be bereft,
the husk of a man.

Or stay here awhile.
My heart cannot bear the night, or these dreams.
Your face is a ghost, though paler, it seems
when you smile.


Have I been too long at the fair?
by Michael R. Burch

Have I been too long at the fair?
The summer has faded,
the leaves have turned brown;
the Ferris wheel teeters ...
not up, yet not down.
Have I been too long at the fair?


Her Preference
by Michael R. Burch

Not for her the pale incandescence of dreams,
the warm glow of imagination,
the hushed whispers of possibility,
or frail, blossoming hope.

No, she prefers the anguish and screams
of bitter condemnation,
the hissing of hostility,
damnation's rope.


hey pete
by Michael R. Burch

for Pete Rose

hey pete,
it's baseball season
and the sun ascends the sky,
encouraging a schoolboy's dreams
of winter whizzing by;
go out, go out and catch it,
put it in a jar,
set it on a shelf
and then you'll be a Superstar.


Moon Lake
by Michael R. Burch

Starlit recorder of summer nights,
what magic spell bewitches you?
They say that all lovers love first in the dark . . .
Is it true?
Is it true?
Is it true?

Starry-eyed seer of all that appears
and all that has appeared―
What sights have you seen?
What dreams have you dreamed?
What rhetoric have you heard?

Is love an oration,
or is it a word?
Have you heard?
Have you heard?
Have you heard?


Tomb Lake
by Michael R. Burch

Go down to the valley
where mockingbirds cry,
alone, ever lonely . . .
yes, go down to die.

And dream in your dying
you never shall wake.
Go down to the valley;
go down to Tomb Lake.

Tomb Lake is a cauldron
of souls such as yours―
mad souls without meaning,
frail souls without force.

Tomb Lake is a graveyard
reserved for the dead.
They lie in her shallows
and sleep in her bed.


Nevermore!
by Michael R. Burch

Nevermore! O, nevermore
shall the haunts of the sea―
the swollen tide pools
and the dark, deserted shore―
mark her passing again.

And the salivating sea
shall never kiss her lips
nor caress her ******* and hips
as she dreamt it did before,
once, lost within the uproar.

The waves will never **** her,
nor take her at their leisure;
the sea gulls shall not have her,
nor could she give them pleasure ...
She sleeps forevermore.

She sleeps forevermore,
a ****** save to me
and her other lover,
who lurks now, safely covered
by the restless, surging sea.

And, yes, they sleep together,
but never in that way!
For the sea has stripped and shorn
the one I once adored,
and washed her flesh away.

He does not stroke her honey hair,
for she is bald, bald to the bone!
And how it fills my heart with glee
to hear them sometimes cursing me
out of the depths of the demon sea ...
their skeletal love―impossibility!


Regret
by Michael R. Burch

Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear . . .

once starlight
languished
in your hair . . .

a shining there
as brief
as rare.

Regret . . .
a pain
I chose to bear . . .

unleash
the torrent
of your hair . . .

and show me
once again―
how rare.


Veronica Franco translations

Capitolo 19: A Courtesan's Love Lyric (I)
by Veronica Franco
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

"I resolved to make a virtue of my desire."

My rewards will be commensurate with your gifts
if only you give me the one that lifts
me laughing ...

And though it costs you nothing,
still it is of immense value to me.

Your reward will be
not just to fly
but to soar, so high
that your joys vastly exceed your desires.

And my beauty, to which your heart aspires
and which you never tire of praising,
I will employ for the raising
of your spirits. Then, lying sweetly at your side,
I will shower you with all the delights of a bride,
which I have more expertly learned.

Then you, who so fervently burned,
will at last rest, fully content,
fallen even more deeply in love, spent
at my comfortable *****.

When I am in bed with a man I blossom,
becoming completely free
with the man who loves and enjoys me.


Capitolo 19: A Courtesan's Love Lyric (II)
by Veronica Franco
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

"I resolved to make a virtue of my desire."

My rewards will match your gifts
If you give me the one that lifts

Me, laughing. If it comes free,
Still, it is of immense value to me.

Your reward will be―not just to fly,
But to soar―so incredibly high

That your joys eclipse your desires
(As my beauty, to which your heart aspires

And which you never tire of praising,
I employ for your spirit's raising).

Afterwards, lying docile at your side,
I will grant you all the delights of a bride,

Which I have more expertly learned.
Then you, who so fervently burned,

Will at last rest, fully content,
Fallen even more deeply in love, spent

At my comfortable *****.
When I am in bed with a man I blossom,

Becoming completely free
With the man who freely enjoys me.


Capitolo 24
by Veronica Franco
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

(written by Franco to a man who had insulted a woman)

Please try to see with sensible eyes
how grotesque it is for you
to insult and abuse women!
Our unfortunate *** is always subject
to such unjust treatment, because we
are dominated, denied true freedom!
And certainly we are not at fault
because, while not as robust as men,
we have equal hearts, minds and intellects.
Nor does virtue originate in power,
but in the vigor of the heart, mind and soul:
the sources of understanding;
and I am certain that in these regards
women lack nothing,
but, rather, have demonstrated
superiority to men.
If you think us "inferior" to yourself,
perhaps it's because, being wise,
we outdo you in modesty.
And if you want to know the truth,
the wisest person is the most patient;
she squares herself with reason and with virtue;
while the madman thunders insolence.
The stone the wise man withdraws from the well
was flung there by a fool ...

When I bed a man
who―I sense―truly loves and enjoys me,
I become so sweet and so delicious
that the pleasure I bring him surpasses all delight,
till the tight
knot of love,
however slight
it may have seemed before,
is raveled to the core.
―Veronica Franco, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

We danced a youthful jig through that fair city―
Venice, our paradise, so pompous and pretty.
We lived for love, for primal lust and beauty;
to please ourselves became our only duty.
Floating there in a fog between heaven and earth,
We grew drunk on excesses and wild mirth.
We thought ourselves immortal poets then,
Our glory endorsed by God's illustrious pen.
But paradise, we learned, is fraught with error,
and sooner or later love succumbs to terror.
―Veronica Franco, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I wish it were not considered a sin
to have liked *******.
Women have yet to realize
the cowardice that presides.
And if they should ever decide
to fight the shallow,
I would be the first, setting an example for them to follow.
―Veronica Franco, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Sessiz Gemi (“Silent Ship”)
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

for the refugees

The time to weigh anchor has come;
a ship departing harbor slips quietly out into the unknown,
cruising noiselessly, its occupants already ghosts.
No flourished handkerchiefs acknowledge their departure;
the landlocked mourners stand nurturing their grief,
scanning the bleak horizon, their eyes blurring ...
Poor souls! Desperate hearts! But this is hardly the last ship departing!
There is always more pain to unload in this sorrowful life!
The hesitations of lovers and their belovèds are futile,
for they cannot know where the vanished are bound.
Many hopes must be quenched by the distant waves,
since years must pass, and no one returns from this journey.


Full Moon
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

You are so lovely
the full moon just might
delight
in your rising,
as curious
and bright,
to vanquish night.

But what can a mortal man do,
dear,
but hope?
I’ll ponder your mysteries
and (hmmmm) try to
cope.

We both know
you have every right to say no.


The Music of the Snow
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This melody of a night lasting longer than a thousand years!
This music of the snow supposed to last for thousand years!

Sorrowful as the prayers of a secluded monastery,
It rises from a choir of a hundred voices!

As the *****’s harmonies resound profoundly,
I share the sufferings of Slavic grief.

Then my mind drifts far from this city, this era,
To the old records of Tanburi Cemil Bey.

Now I’m suddenly overjoyed as once again I hear,
With the ears of my heart, the purest sounds of Istanbul!

Thoughts of the snow and darkness depart me;
I keep them at bay all night with my dreams!


She Was Very Strange, and Beautiful
by Michael R. Burch

She was very strange, and beautiful,
like a violet mist enshrouding hills
before night falls
when the hoot owl calls
and the cricket trills
and the envapored moon hangs low and full.

She was very strange, in a pleasant way,
as the hummingbird
flies madly still,
so I drank my fill
of her every word.
What she knew of love, she demurred to say.

She was meant to leave, as the wind must blow,
as the sun must set,
as the rain must fall.
Though she gave her all,
I had nothing left . . .
yet I smiled, bereft, in her receding glow.


The Stake
by Michael R. Burch

Love, the heart bets,
if not without regrets,
will still prove, in the end,
worth the light we expend
mining the dark
for an exquisite heart.


If
by Michael R. Burch

If I regret
fire in the sunset
exploding on the horizon,
then let me regret loving you.

If I forget
even for a moment
that you are the only one,
then let me forget that the sky is blue.

If I should yearn
in a season of discontentment
for the vagabond light of a companionless moon,
let dawn remind me that you are my sun.

If I should burn―one moment less brightly,
one instant less true―
then with wild scorching kisses,
inflame me, inflame me, inflame me anew.


Snapshots
by Michael R. Burch

Here I scrawl extravagant rainbows.
And there you go, skipping your way to school.
And here we are, drifting apart
like untethered balloons.

Here I am, creating "art,"
chanting in shadows,
pale as the crinoline moon,
ignoring your face.

There you go,
in diaphanous lace,
making another man’s heart swoon.
Suddenly, unthinkably, here he is,
taking my place.


East Devon Beacon
by Michael R. Burch

Evening darkens upon the moors,
Forgiveness--a hairless thing
skirting the headlamps, fugitive.

Why have we come,
traversing the long miles
and extremities of solitude,
worriedly crisscrossing the wrong maps
with directions
obtained from passing strangers?

Why do we sit,
frantically retracing
love’s long-forgotten signal points
with cramping, ink-stained fingers?

Why the preemptive frowns,
the litigious silences,
when only yesterday we watched
as, out of an autumn sky this vast,
over an orchard or an onion field,
wild Vs of distressed geese
sped across the moon’s face,
the sound of their panicked wings
like our alarmed hearts
pounding in unison?


The Princess and the Pauper
by Michael R. Burch

Here was a woman bright, intent on life,
who did not flinch from Death, but caught his eye
and drew him, powerless, into her spell
of wanting her himself, so much the lie
that she was meant for him―obscene illusion!―
made him seem a monarch throned like God on high,
when he was less than nothing; when to die
meant many stultifying, pained embraces.

She shed her gown, undid the tangled laces
that tied her to the earth: then she was his.
Now all her erstwhile beauty he defaces
and yet she grows in hallowed loveliness―
her ghost beyond perfection―for to die
was to ascend. Now he begs, penniless.


I, Too, Sang America (in my diapers!)
by Michael R. Burch

I, too, served my country,
first as a tyke, then as a toddler, later as a rambunctious boy,
growing up on military bases around the world,
making friends only to leave them,
saluting the flag through veils of tears,
time and time again ...

In defense of my country,
I too did my awesome duty―
cursing the Communists,
confronting Them in backyard battles where They slunk around disguised as my sniggling Sisters,
while always demonstrating the immense courage
to start my small life over and over again
whenever Uncle Sam called ...

Building and rebuilding my shattered psyche,
such as it was,
dealing with PTSD (preschool traumatic stress disorder)
without the adornments of medals, ribbons or epaulets,
serving without pay,
following my father’s gruffly barked orders,
however ill-advised ...

A true warrior!
Will you salute me?


Wulf and Eadwacer (ancient Anglo-Saxon poem)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My clan’s curs pursue him like crippled game;
they'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

Wulf's on one island; we’re on another.
His island's a fortress, fastened by fens.
Here, bloodthirsty curs howl for carnage.
They'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

My hopes pursued Wulf like panting hounds,
but whenever it rained―how I wept!―
the boldest cur grasped me in his paws:
good feelings for him, but for me loathsome!

Wulf, O, my Wulf, my ache for you
has made me sick; your seldom-comings
have left me famished, deprived of real meat.
Have you heard, Eadwacer? Watchdog!
A wolf has borne our wretched whelp to the woods!
One can easily sever what never was one:
our song together.


Advice to Young Poets
by Nicanor Parra Sandoval
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Youngsters,
write however you will
in your preferred style.
Too much blood flowed under the bridge
for me to believe
there’s just one acceptable path.
In poetry everything’s permitted.


Prayer for a Merciful, Compassionate, etc., God to ****** His Creations Quickly & Painlessly, Rather than Slowly & Painfully
by Michael R. Burch

Lord, **** me fast and please do it quickly!
Please don’t leave me gassed, archaic and sickly!
Why render me mean, rude, wrinkly and prickly?
Lord, why procrastinate?

Lord, we all know you’re an expert killer!
Please, don’t leave me aging like Phyllis Diller!
Why torture me like some poor sap in a thriller?
God, grant me a gentler fate!

Lord, we all know you’re an expert at ******
like Abram―the wild-eyed demonic goat-herder
who’d slit his son’s throat without thought at your order.
Lord, why procrastinate?

Lord, we all know you’re a terrible sinner!
What did dull Japheth eat for his 300th dinner
after a year on the ark, growing thinner and thinner?
God, grant me a gentler fate!

Dear Lord, did the lion and tiger compete
for the last of the lambkin’s sweet, tender meat?
How did Noah preserve his fast-rotting wheat?
God, grant me a gentler fate!

Lord, why not be a merciful Prelate?
Do you really want me to detest, loathe and hate
the Father, the Son and their Ghostly Mate?
Lord, why procrastinate?


Progress
by Michael R. Burch

There is no sense of urgency
at the local Burger King.

Birds and squirrels squabble outside
for the last scraps of autumn:
remnants of buns,
goopy pulps of dill pickles,
mucousy lettuce,
sesame seeds.

Inside, the workers all move
with the same très-glamorous lethargy,
conserving their energy, one assumes,
for more pressing endeavors: concerts and proms,
pep rallies, keg parties,
reruns of Jenny McCarthy on MTV.

The manager, as usual, is on the phone,
talking to her boyfriend.
She gently smiles,
brushing back wisps of insouciant hair,
ready for the cover of Glamour or Vogue.

Through her filmy white blouse
an indiscreet strap
suspends a lace cup
through which somehow the ****** still shows.
Progress, we guess, ...

and wait patiently in line,
hoping the Pokémons hold out.


Reclamation
by Michael R. Burch

I have come to the dark side of things
where the bat sings
its evasive radar
and Want is a crooked forefinger
attached to a gelatinous wing.

I have grown animate here, a stitched corpse
hooked to electrodes.
And night
moves upon me―progenitor of life
with its foul breath.

Blind eyes have their second sight
and still are deceived. Now my nature
is softly to moan
as Desire carries me
swooningly across her threshold.

Stone
is less infinite than her crone’s
gargantuan hooked nose, her driveling lips.
I eye her ecstatically―her dowager figure,
and there is something about her that my words transfigure
to a consuming emptiness.

We are at peace
with each other; this is our venture―
swaying, the strings tautening, as tightropes
tauten, as love tightens, constricts
to the first note.

Lyre of our hearts’ pits,
orchestration of nothing, adits
of emptiness! We have come to the last of our hopes,
sweet as congealed blood sweetens for flies.
Need is reborn; love dies.


ANCIENT GREEK EPIGRAMS

These are my translations of ancient Greek and Roman epigrams, or they may be better described as interpretations or poems “after” the original poets …

You begrudge men your virginity?
Why? To what purpose?
You will find no one to embrace you in the grave.
The joys of love are for the living.
But in Acheron, dear ******,
we shall all lie dust and ashes.
—Asclepiades of Samos (circa 320-260 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let me live with joy today, since tomorrow is unforeseeable.
―Michael R Burch, after Palladas of Alexandria

Laments for Animals

Now his voice is prisoned in the silent pathways of the night:
his owner’s faithful Maltese . . .
but will he still bark again, on sight?
―Michael R Burch, after Tymnes

Poor partridge, poor partridge, lately migrated from the rocks;
our cat bit off your unlucky head; my offended heart still balks!
I put you back together again and buried you, so unsightly!
May the dark earth cover you heavily: heavily, not lightly . . .
so she shan’t get at you again!
―Michael R Burch, after Agathias

Hunter partridge,
we no longer hear your echoing cry
along the forest's dappled feeding ground
where, in times gone by,
you would decoy speckled kinsfolk to their doom,
luring them on,
for now you too have gone
down the dark path to Acheron.
―Michael R Burch, after Simmias

Wert thou, O Artemis,
overbusy with thy beast-slaying hounds
when the Beast embraced me?
―Michael R Burch, after Diodorus of Sardis

Dead as you are, though you lie as
still as cold stone, huntress Lycas,
my great Thessalonian hound,
the wild beasts still fear your white bones;
craggy Pelion remembers your valor,
splendid Ossa, the way you would bound
and bay at the moon for its whiteness
as below we heard valleys resound.
And how brightly with joy you would leap and run
the strange lonely peaks of high Cithaeron!
―Michael R Burch, after Simonides

Anyte Epigrams

Stranger, rest your weary legs beneath the elms;
hear how coolly the breeze murmurs through their branches;
then take a bracing draught from the mountain-fed fountain;
for this is welcome shade from the burning sun.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Here I stand, Hermes, in the crossroads
by the windswept elms near the breezy beach,
providing rest to sunburned travelers,
and cold and brisk is my fountain’s abundance.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Sit here, quietly shaded by the luxuriant foliage,
and drink cool water from the sprightly spring,
so that your weary breast, panting with summer’s labors,
may take rest from the blazing sun.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This is the grove of Cypris,
for it is fair for her to look out over the land to the bright deep,
that she may make the sailors’ voyages happy,
as the sea trembles, observing her brilliant image.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Nossis Epigrams

There is nothing sweeter than love.
All other delights are secondary.
Thus, I spit out even honey.
This is what Gnossis says:
Whom Aphrodite does not love,
Is bereft of her roses.
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Most revered Hera, the oft-descending from heaven,
behold your Lacinian shrine fragrant with incense
and receive the linen robe your noble child Nossis,
daughter of Theophilis and Cleocha, has woven for you.
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Stranger, if you sail to Mitylene, my homeland of beautiful dances,
to indulge in the most exquisite graces of Sappho,
remember I also was loved by the Muses, who bore me and reared me there.
My name, never forget it!, is Nossis. Now go!
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Pass me with ringing laughter, then award me
a friendly word: I am Rinthon, scion of Syracuse,
a small nightingale of the Muses; from their tragedies
I was able to pluck an ivy, unique, for my own use.
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Ibykos/Ibycus Epigrams

Euryalus, born of the blue-eyed Graces,
scion of the bright-tressed Seasons,
son of the Cyprian,
whom dew-lidded Persuasion birthed among rose-blossoms.
—Ibykos/Ibycus (circa 540 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Ibykos/Ibycus Fragment 286, circa 564 B.C.
this poem has been titled "The Influence of Spring"
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Come spring, the grand
apple trees stand
watered by a gushing river
where the maidens’ uncut flowers shiver
and the blossoming grape vine swells
in the gathering shadows.

Unfortunately
for me
Eros never rests
but like a Thracian tempest
ablaze with lightning
emanates from Aphrodite;

the results are frightening—
black,
bleak,
astonishing,
violently jolting me from my soles
to my soul.

Ibykos/Ibycus Fragment 282, circa 540 B.C.
Ibykos fragment 282, Oxyrhynchus papyrus, lines 1-32
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch,

... They also destroyed the glorious city of Priam, son of Dardanus,
after leaving Argos due to the devices of death-dealing Zeus,
encountering much-sung strife over the striking beauty of auburn-haired Helen,
waging woeful war when destruction rained down on longsuffering Pergamum
thanks to the machinations of golden-haired Aphrodite ...

But now it is not my intention to sing of Paris, the host-deceiver,
nor of slender-ankled Cassandra,
nor of Priam’s other children,
nor of the nameless day of the downfall of high-towered Troy,
nor even of the valour of the heroes who hid in the hollow, many-bolted horse ...

Such was the destruction of Troy.

They were heroic men and Agamemnon was their king,
a king from Pleisthenes,
a son of Atreus, son of a noble father.

The all-wise Muses of Helicon
might recount such tales accurately,
but no mortal man, unblessed,
could ever number those innumerable ships
Menelaus led across the Aegean from Aulos ...
"From Argos they came, the bronze-speared sons of the Achaeans ..."

Antipater Epigrams

Everywhere the sea is the sea, the dead are the dead.
What difference to me—where I rest my head?
The sea knows I’m buried.
―Michael R Burch, after Antipater of Sidon

Mnemosyne was stunned into astonishment when she heard honey-tongued Sappho,
wondering how mortal men merited a tenth Muse.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch,

O Aeolian land, you lightly cover Sappho,
the mortal Muse who joined the Immortals,
whom Cypris and Eros fostered,
with whom Peitho wove undying wreaths,
who was the joy of Hellas and your glory.
O Fates who twine the spindle's triple thread,
why did you not spin undying life
for the singer whose deathless gifts
enchanted the Muses of Helicon?
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Here, O stranger, the sea-crashed earth covers Homer,
herald of heroes' valour,
spokesman of the Olympians,
second sun to the Greeks,
light of the immortal Muses,
the Voice that never diminishes.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

This herald of heroes,
this interpreter of the Immortals,
this second sun shedding light on the life of Greece,
Homer,
the delight of the Muses,
the ageless voice of the world,
lies dead, O stranger,
washed away with the sea-washed sand ...
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

As high as the trumpet's cry exceeds the thin flute's,
so high above all others your lyre rang;
so much the sweeter your honey than the waxen-celled swarm's.
O Pindar, with your tender lips witness how the horned god Pan
forgot his pastoral reeds when he sang your hymns.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Here lies Pindar, the Pierian trumpet,
the heavy-smiting smith of well-stuck hymns.
Hearing his melodies, one might believe
the immortal Muses possessed bees
to produce heavenly harmonies in the bridal chamber of Cadmus.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Harmonia, the goddess of Harmony, was the bride of Cadmus, so his bridal chamber would have been full of pleasant sounds.

Praise the well-wrought verses of tireless Antimachus,
a man worthy of the majesty of ancient demigods,
whose words were forged on the Muses' anvils.
If you are gifted with a keen ear,
if you aspire to weighty words,
if you would pursue a path less traveled,
if Homer holds the scepter of song,
and yet Zeus is greater than Poseidon,
even so Poseidon his inferior exceeds all other Immortals;
and even so the Colophonian bows before Homer,
but exceeds all other singers.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

I, the trumpet that once blew the ****** battle-notes
and the sweet truce-tunes, now hang here, Pherenicus,
your gift to Athena, quieted from my clamorous music.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Behold Anacreon's tomb;
here the Teian swan sleeps with the unmitigated madness of his love for lads.
Still he sings songs of longing on the lyre of Bathyllus
and the albescent marble is perfumed with ivy.
Death has not quenched his desire
and the house of Acheron still burns with the fevers of Cypris.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

May the four-clustered clover, Anacreon,
grow here by your grave,
ringed by the tender petals of the purple meadow-flowers,
and may fountains of white milk bubble up,
and the sweet-scented wine gush forth from the earth,
so that your ashes and bones may experience joy,
if indeed the dead know any delight.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Stranger passing by the simple tomb of Anacreon,
if you found any profit in my books,
please pour drops of your libation on my ashes,
so that my bones, refreshed by wine, may rejoice
that I, who so delighted in the boisterous revels of Dionysus,
and who played such manic music, as wine-drinkers do,
even in death may not travel without Bacchus
in my sojourn to that land to which all men must come.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Anacreon, glory of Ionia,
even in the land of the lost may you never be without your beloved revels,
or your well-loved lyre,
and may you still sing with glistening eyes,
shaking the braided flowers from your hair,
turning always towards Eurypyle, Megisteus, or the locks of Thracian Smerdies,
sipping sweet wine,
your robes drenched with the juices of grapes,
wringing intoxicating nectar from its folds ...
For all your life, old friend, was poured out as an offering to these three:
the Muses, Bacchus, and Love.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

You sleep amid the dead, Anacreon,
your day-labor done,
your well-loved lyre's sweet tongue silenced
that once sang incessantly all night long.
And Smerdies also sleeps,
the spring-tide of your loves,
for whom, tuning and turning you lyre,
you made music like sweetest nectar.
For you were Love's bullseye,
the lover of lads,
and he had the bow and the subtle archer's craft
to never miss his target.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Erinna's verses were few, nor were her songs overlong,
but her smallest works were inspired.
Therefore she cannot fail to be remembered
and is never lost beneath the shadowy wings of bleak night.
While we, the estranged, the innumerable throngs of tardy singers,
lie in pale corpse-heaps wasting into oblivion.
The moaned song of the lone swan outdoes the cawings of countless jackdaws
echoing far and wide through darkening clouds.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Who hung these glittering shields here,
these unstained spears and unruptured helmets,
dedicating to murderous Ares ornaments of no value?
Will no one cast these virginal weapons out of my armory?
Their proper place is in the peaceful halls of placid men,
not within the wild walls of Enyalius.
I delight in hacked heads and the blood of dying berserkers,
if, indeed, I am Ares the Destroyer.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

May good Fortune, O stranger, keep you on course all your life before a fair breeze!
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Docile doves may coo for cowards,
but we delight in dauntless men.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Here by the threshing-room floor,
little ant, you relentless toiler,
I built you a mound of liquid-absorbing earth,
so that even in death you may partake of the droughts of Demeter,
as you lie in the grave my plough burrowed.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

This is your mother’s lament, Artemidorus,
weeping over your tomb,
bewailing your twelve brief years:
"All the fruit of my labor has gone up in smoke,
all your heartbroken father's endeavors are ash,
all your childish passion an extinguished flame.
For you have entered the land of the lost,
from which there is no return, never a home-coming.
You failed to reach your prime, my darling,
and now we have nothing but your headstone and dumb dust."
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Everywhere the sea is the sea, the dead are the dead.
What difference to me—where I rest my head?
The sea knows I’m buried.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Everywhere the Sea is the Sea
by Antipater of Sidon
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Everywhere the Sea is the same;
why then do we idly blame
the Cyclades
or the harrowing waves of narrow Helle?

To protest is vain!

Justly, they have earned their fame.

Why then,
after I had escaped them,
did the harbor of Scarphe engulf me?

I advise whoever finds a fair passage home:
accept that the sea's way is its own.
Man is foam.
Aristagoras knows who's buried here.


Orpheus, mute your bewitching strains
by Antipater of Sidon
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Orpheus, mute your bewitching strains;
Leave beasts to wander stony plains;
No longer sing fierce winds to sleep,
Nor seek to enchant the tumultuous deep;
For you are dead; each Muse, forlorn,
Strums anguished strings as your mother mourns.
Mind, mere mortals, mind—no use to moan,
When even a Goddess could not save her own!


Orpheus, now you will never again enchant
by Antipater of Sidon
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch



Orpheus, now you will never again enchant the charmed oaks,
never again mesmerize shepherdless herds of wild beasts,
never again lull the roaring winds,
never again tame the tumultuous hail
nor the sweeping snowstorms
nor the crashing sea,
for you have perished
and the daughters of Mnemosyne weep for you,
and your mother Calliope above all.
Why do mortals mourn their dead sons,
when not even the gods can protect their children from Hades?
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch


The High Road to Death
by Antipater of Sidon
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

Men skilled in the stars call me brief-lifed;
I am, but what do I care, O Seleucus?
All men descend to Hades
and if our demise comes quicker,
the sooner we shall we look on Minos.
Let us drink then, for surely wine is a steed for the high-road,
when pedestrians march sadly to Death.


The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
by Antipater of Sidon
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

I have set my eyes upon
the lofty walls of Babylon
with its elevated road for chariots
... and upon the statue of Zeus
by the Alpheus ...
... and upon the hanging gardens ...
... upon the Colossus of the Sun ...
... upon the massive edifices
of the towering pyramids ...
... even upon the vast tomb of Mausolus ...
but when I saw the mansion of Artemis
disappearing into the cirri,
those other marvels lost their brilliancy
and I said, "Setting aside Olympus,
the Sun never shone on anything so fabulous!"


Sophocles Epigrams

Not to have been born is best,
and blessed
beyond the ability of words to express.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It’s a hundred times better not be born;
but if we cannot avoid the light,
the path of least harm is swiftly to return
to death’s eternal night!
—Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Never to be born may be the biggest boon of all.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Oblivion: What a blessing, to lie untouched by pain!
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The happiest life is one empty of thought.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Consider no man happy till he lies dead, free of pain at last.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

What is worse than death? When death is desired but denied.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When a man endures nothing but endless miseries, what is the use of hanging on day after day,
edging closer and closer toward death? Anyone who warms his heart with the false glow of flickering hope is a wretch! The noble man should live with honor and die with honor. That's all that can be said.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Children anchor their mothers to life.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

How terrible, to see the truth when the truth brings only pain to the seer!
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Wisdom outweighs all the world's wealth.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Fortune never favors the faint-hearted.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Wait for evening to appreciate the day's splendor.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Homer Epigrams

For the gods have decreed that unfortunate mortals must suffer, while they themselves are sorrowless.
—Homer, Iliad 24.525-526, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

“It is best not to be born or, having been born, to pass on as swiftly as possible.”
—attributed to Homer (circa 800 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Ancient Roman Epigrams

Wall, I'm astonished that you haven't collapsed,
since you're holding up verses so prolapsed!
—Ancient Roman graffiti, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

There is nothing so pointless, so perfidious as human life! ... The ultimate bliss is not to be born; otherwise we should speedily slip back into the original Nothingness.
—Seneca, On Consolation to Marcia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Less Heroic Couplets: Rejection Slips
by Michael R. Burch

pour Melissa Balmain

Whenever my writing gets rejected,
I always wonder how the rejecter got elected.
Are we exchanging at the same Bourse?
(Excepting present company, of course!)

I consider the term “rejection slip” to be a double entendre. When editors reject my poems, did I slip up, or did they? Is their slip showing, or is mine?



Remembering Not to Call
by Michael R. Burch

a villanelle permitting mourning, for my mother, Christine Ena Burch

The hardest thing of all,
after telling her everything,
is remembering not to call.

Now the phone hanging on the wall
will never announce her ring:
the hardest thing of all

for children, however tall.
And the hardest thing this spring
will be remembering not to call

the one who was everything.
That the songbirds will nevermore sing
is the hardest thing of all

for those who once listened, in thrall,
and welcomed the message they bring,
since they won’t remember to call.

And the hardest thing this fall
will be a number with no one to ring.
No, the hardest thing of all
is remembering not to call.



Sailing to My Grandfather, for George Hurt
by Michael R. Burch

This distance between us
―this vast sea
of remembrance―
is no hindrance,
no enemy.

I see you out of the shining mists
of memory.
Events and chance
and circumstance
are sands on the shore of your legacy.

I find you now in fits and bursts
of breezes time has blown to me,
while waves, immense,
now skirt and glance
against the bow unceasingly.

I feel the sea's salt spray―light fists,
her mists and vapors mocking me.
From ignorance
to reverence,
your words were sextant stars to me.

Bright stars are strewn in silver gusts
back, back toward infinity.
From innocence
to senescence,
now you are mine increasingly.



All Things Galore
by Michael R. Burch

for my grandfathers George Edwin Hurt Sr. and Paul Ray Burch, Sr.

Grandfather,
now in your gray presence
you are

somehow more near

and remind me that,
once, upon a star,
you taught me

wish

that ululate soft phrase,
that hopeful phrase!

and everywhere above, each hopeful star

gleamed down

and seemed to speak of times before
when you clasped my small glad hand
in your wise paw

and taught me heaven, omen, meteor . . .



Attend Upon Them Still
by Michael R. Burch

for my grandparents George and Ena Hurt

With gentleness and fine and tender will,
attend upon them still;
thou art the grass.

Nor let men’s feet here muddy as they pass
thy subtle undulations, nor depress
for long the comforts of thy lovingness,

nor let the fuse
of time wink out amid the violets.
They have their use―

to wave, to grow, to gleam, to lighten their paths,
to shine sweet, transient glories at their feet.
Thou art the grass;

make them complete.



Sanctuary at Dawn
by Michael R. Burch

I have walked these thirteen miles
just to stand outside your door.
The rain has dogged my footsteps
for thirteen miles, for thirty years,
through the monsoon seasons ...
and now my tears
have all been washed away.

Through thirteen miles of rain I slogged,
I stumbled and I climbed
rainslickened slopes
that led me home
to the hope that I might find
a life I lived before.

The door is wet; my cheeks are wet,
but not with rain or tears ...
as I knock I sweat
and the raining seems
the rhythm of the years.

Now you stand outlined in the doorway
―a man as large as I left―
and with bated breath
I take a step
into the accusing light.

Your eyes are grayer
than I remembered;
your hair is grayer, too.
As the red rust runs
down the dripping drains,
our voices exclaim―

"My father!"
"My son!"


Ah! Sunflower
by Michael R. Burch

after William Blake

O little yellow flower
like a star ...
how beautiful,
how wonderful
we are!



Anyte Epigrams

Stranger, rest your weary legs beneath the elms;
hear how coolly the breeze murmurs through their branches;
then take a bracing draught from the mountain-fed fountain;
for this is welcome shade from the burning sun.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Here I stand, Hermes, in the crossroads
by the windswept elms near the breezy beach,
providing rest to sunburned travelers,
and cold and brisk is my fountain’s abundance.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Sit here, quietly shaded by the luxuriant foliage,
and drink cool water from the sprightly spring,
so that your weary breast, panting with summer’s labors,
may take rest from the blazing sun.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This is the grove of Cypris,
for it is fair for her to look out over the land to the bright deep,
that she may make the sailors’ voyages happy,
as the sea trembles, observing her brilliant image.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Nossis Epigrams

There is nothing sweeter than love.
All other delights are secondary.
Thus, I spit out even honey.
This is what Gnossis says:
Whom Aphrodite does not love,
Is bereft of her roses.
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Most revered Hera, the oft-descending from heaven,
behold your Lacinian shrine fragrant with incense
and receive the linen robe your noble child Nossis,
daughter of Theophilis and Cleocha, has woven for you.
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Stranger, if you sail to Mitylene, my homeland of beautiful dances,
to indulge in the most exquisite graces of Sappho,
remember I also was loved by the Muses, who bore me and reared me there.
My name, never forget it!, is Nossis. Now go!
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Pass me with ringing laughter, then award me
a friendly word: I am Rinthon, scion of Syracuse,
a small nightingale of the Muses; from their tragedies
I was able to pluck an ivy, unique, for my own use.
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Excerpts from “Distaff”
by Erinna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

… the moon rising …
      … leaves falling …
           … waves lapping a windswept shore …

… and our childish games, Baucis, do you remember? ...

... Leaping from white horses,
running on reckless feet through the great courtyard.  
“You’re it!’ I cried, ‘You’re the Tortoise now!”
But when your turn came to pursue your pursuers,
you darted beyond the courtyard,
dashed out deep into the waves,
splashing far beyond us …

… My poor Baucis, these tears I now weep are your warm memorial,
these traces of embers still smoldering in my heart
for our silly amusements, now that you lie ash …

… Do you remember how, as girls,
we played at weddings with our dolls,
pretending to be brides in our innocent beds? ...

... How sometimes I was your mother,
allotting wool to the weaver-women,
calling for you to unreel the thread? ...

… Do you remember our terror of the monster Mormo
with her huge ears, her forever-flapping tongue,
her four slithering feet, her shape-shifting face? ...

... Until you mother called for us to help with the salted meat ...

... But when you mounted your husband’s bed,
dearest Baucis, you forgot your mothers’ warnings!
Aphrodite made your heart forgetful ...

... Desire becomes oblivion ...

... Now I lament your loss, my dearest friend.
I can’t bear to think of that dark crypt.
I can’t bring myself to leave the house.
I refuse to profane your corpse with my tearless eyes.
I refuse to cut my hair, but how can I mourn with my hair unbound?
I blush with shame at the thought of you! …

... But in this dark house, O my dearest Baucis,
My deep grief is ripping me apart.
Wretched Erinna! Only nineteen,
I moan like an ancient crone, eying this strange distaff ...

O *****! . . . O Hymenaeus! . . .
Alas, my poor Baucis!



On a Betrothed Girl
by Erinna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I sing of Baucis the bride.
Observing her tear-stained crypt
say this to Death who dwells underground:
"Thou art envious, O Death!"

Her vivid monument tells passers-by
of the bitter misfortune of Baucis —
how her father-in-law burned the poor ******* a pyre
lit by bright torches meant to light her marriage train home.
While thou, O Hymenaeus, transformed her harmonious bridal song into a chorus of wailing dirges.

*****! O Hymenaeus!

Keywords/Tags: elegy, eulogy, child, childhood, death, death of a friend, lament, lamentation, epitaph, grave, funeral

Published as the collection "Ancient Greek Epigrams"
Jonathan Witte Oct 2016
Having lost her forever,
he steps off the escalator
into hard sunshine, drops
to the sidewalk and caves—
a troubadour whose songs
have been dismantled
by the sadistic hands
of a subway conductor.

Guitar strings slip his fingers,
and nothing will bring her back.
Not a song. Not a psalm. Nothing.
Not the angelic back
of his leather jacket,
spanned by a score
of safety-pins formed
into silver-studded wings.
Not his listless body,
tattoo-inked and wrecked,
blue quarter notes slinking
down a tight treble clef,
wires stretched across his neck.
Not his mind, spinning
in a head blue-veined
and stubble-shaved.
Not his angry steel-tipped boots.

He lost his love because he looked.
One by one,
the silver pins
have come
unhooked.

Meantime,
far below
the sidewalk,
banished forever,
she slumps cheated
and dispossessed
in the vinyl seat
of a hellbound
subway car crawling
with scorched graffiti,
spray paint-scrawled
filigree spelling her doom.
Ghost of a snake bite
below her knee.  

Mohawk depressed,
she leans against
the train window.
Dead glass reflects
a chorus of piercings,
steel threaded through
skin so translucent
her veins and arteries
glow blue and red:
mapped subway lines
circulating misfortune,
coursing with dread.

The train rattles along rails
encrusted with gems and bones.
Disgorging sparks and smoke,
it thunders into stygian gloom,
ferrying her to a heartless god.

What if her shadow
had made a sound?
A backward glance was all it took
to squander a lavish second chance.

High above his beloved,
awakened by moonlight,
Orpheus regains his senses
and gathers the guitar.
The case flung open
at his boots awaits a drizzle
of tossed dollars and coins,
piteous currencies of loss.
Hard pick between thumb
and finger, a downstroke
strum delivers plaintive
waves of power chords.

The song ignites
a crowd of women
in tight band t-shirts
and skinny jeans,
smacking cherry gum,
their flaming hair
casting embers
upon night air;
radiant specks
suspended
like lighters
in a sunless
stadium.

Spurred by his song,
the covey of maenads
coalesces and attacks,
enraptured, enraged.
A rush of bodies,
the crazed crush tears
him limb from limb,
splits him to close to cipher,
until what remains of the star
on the sidewalk is his heart:
the four-chambered *****
held in a hundred hands,
picked up and packed
into the red plush lining
of the grisly guitar case,
golden hinges snapped shut.

Entombed in coffin-black
chrysalis, the heart pauses
like an untouched drum—
a dormant instrument
awaiting metamorphosis
that, like Eurydice,
will never come.
Raj Arumugam Oct 2010
1
five moons for earth
sometimes I wish
dear moon
sometimes I wish
the earth had five moons
and all so positioned
we can see
one every night and then in twos and in threes
never four (just so for mystery’s sake)
and then all five
all in perfect alignment once a year
just three nights so
and then we’ll all here on earth
go ga ga ga
or moo moo moo looooney
those nights and go crazy
and climb up trees and enact our ape ancestry …

and don’t you be jealous
I asked for four others;
I just want more of you –
just never seem to get enough of you


2
I see you moon
I see you moon
this cool autumn morning
you sing over the river and trees
and you are supported
by your belly-dance troupe of stars




3
ah poor moon
ah poor moon
you're just hanging around
and through no fault of your own
you attract all these weirdos
these lunatics
and the vampires and the blood-******* bats
and the sleep-walkers and murderers
and the flesh-eaters
(the moon made me do it!)
and the lunatics
and the werewolves
and even stock-pickers
and wild women who want to **** Orpheus

O poor moon
you're just about your own radiant business
and all these freaks put it at your doorstep


4
dear moon, you will understand
darling moon
dear moon
do not be offended
we have stripped you
down to rock and a plain face
and we show pictures of you
in black, gray and white;
and though a writer of verse,
in this verse,
I strip you of your romance and aura;
be not angry
for after all,
you will understand,
we are children who come after
Galileo
and Neil Armstrong



5
Li Po, the moon and me
You know
lovely moon
Li Po
was drunk
and he paddled out to you
seeing your reflection
and he jumped in to the lake
embracing you in the waters
and so he drowned;
but,
you know
loving moon,
I will not come to you thus;
instead you know my time
and you will drown
in the lake shadows of my quiet


6
in praise of the moon
I will not sing you a song of praise
O gentle moon
there are too many modern people around
too many enlightened minds tonight
they reckon they don't need your light;
there are too many elect
and too many going to Heaven
and if I sang in praise of you
they will throw their Blessed Books at me
and they will say
'You moon-worshiper, you go to hell!'
(they fancy words like idolator)

O so most divine moon
O godly moon
O most sacred moon
I shall not sing in praise of you;
there are too many bloodthirsty wolves around


7
was it you, mooon?
cold moon
I am sad;
was it you,
distant moon,
who made me so
tonight?


8
you are there moon
you are there moon;
I thought you were not
and I went to sleep
and I sighed: "She will not come, not tonight;
she has some other lover";
and I went to sleep
and then much later now I wake up
and you've come, out there
and your light full within my room
and your fingers on every cell of my being



9
you witness my dying
you witness my dying
as you see my life, my hopes and desires
and all my embarrassments
and my achievements too,
dear moon;
O quiet presence,
O radiant presence all one's life;
and what do you look at these days
in my life
darling moon
what do you see?
you who have seen the child grow old
and you hang out beaming by the window
patiently
to see one more death
to add to the countless you witness
since the day you came

10
M for Man, Money and Moon
M for moon
M for Man
M for Money;
and at last Man has seen the moonlight
and now they know
Man can make Money out of the Moon

11
Moon, I hear you are moving away
Moon, I hear you are moving away
Why moon, are you moving away?
Don’t you like your neighbor
earth so blue and green
and earthlings so adorable?
Did you not come so near
to get to know your neighbor well?
why then are you moving, moon?
maybe you’ve come to know us well
I hear you’re moving slowly,
so slowly your neighbor doesn’t notice;
how considerate of you
Anyway, I’ll be gone before you
Maxim Keyfman Dec 2018
oh orpheus descend thou
next to me about you next about you
again with me about you again with me
i feel your hand your look

look it tears it tears on my
before my eyes this joy is sadness
this all events that happened with me
for these endless wandering years

o orpheus do not leave me stay with me
be with me i don't want to forget you
I already forgot myself you are the only torch
which will revive me which will give me a memory

07.12.18
Sarah Spang Jan 2015
Reminiscent in my face
I see Eurydice
Trapped behind in shadows while
My Orpheus walks on free

Free to dwell in Sunlight
From whence his form found shape
Hewn from gold, from earth and dust
Spun from flaxen rays.

Just up above, just out of reach
From splayed out fingertips
That leak of shadow, wreak of dark
That find no grasping grip.
Ye learnèd sisters, which have oftentimes
Beene to me ayding, others to adorne,
Whom ye thought worthy of your gracefull rymes,
That even the greatest did not greatly scorne
To heare theyr names sung in your simple layes,
But joyèd in theyr praise;
And when ye list your owne mishaps to mourne,
Which death, or love, or fortunes wreck did rayse,
Your string could soone to sadder tenor turne,
And teach the woods and waters to lament
Your dolefull dreriment:
Now lay those sorrowfull complaints aside;
And, having all your heads with girlands crownd,
Helpe me mine owne loves prayses to resound;
Ne let the same of any be envide:
So Orpheus did for his owne bride!
So I unto my selfe alone will sing;
The woods shall to me answer, and my Eccho ring.

Early, before the worlds light-giving lampe
His golden beame upon the hils doth spred,
Having disperst the nights unchearefull dampe,
Doe ye awake; and, with fresh *****-hed,
Go to the bowre of my belovèd love,
My truest turtle dove;
Bid her awake; for ***** is awake,
And long since ready forth his maske to move,
With his bright Tead that flames with many a flake,
And many a bachelor to waite on him,
In theyr fresh garments trim.
Bid her awake therefore, and soone her dight,
For lo! the wishèd day is come at last,
That shall, for all the paynes and sorrowes past,
Pay to her usury of long delight:
And, whylest she doth her dight,
Doe ye to her of joy and solace sing,
That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring.

Bring with you all the Nymphes that you can heare
Both of the rivers and the forrests greene,
And of the sea that neighbours to her neare:
Al with gay girlands goodly wel beseene.
And let them also with them bring in hand
Another gay girland
For my fayre love, of lillyes and of roses,
Bound truelove wize, with a blew silke riband.
And let them make great store of bridale poses,
And let them eeke bring store of other flowers,
To deck the bridale bowers.
And let the ground whereas her foot shall tread,
For feare the stones her tender foot should wrong,
Be strewed with fragrant flowers all along,
And diapred lyke the discolored mead.
Which done, doe at her chamber dore awayt,
For she will waken strayt;
The whiles doe ye this song unto her sing,
The woods shall to you answer, and your Eccho ring.

Ye Nymphes of Mulla, which with carefull heed
The silver scaly trouts doe tend full well,
And greedy pikes which use therein to feed;
(Those trouts and pikes all others doo excell;)
And ye likewise, which keepe the rushy lake,
Where none doo fishes take;
Bynd up the locks the which hang scatterd light,
And in his waters, which your mirror make,
Behold your faces as the christall bright,
That when you come whereas my love doth lie,
No blemish she may spie.
And eke, ye lightfoot mayds, which keepe the deere,
That on the hoary mountayne used to towre;
And the wylde wolves, which seeke them to devoure,
With your steele darts doo chace from comming neer;
Be also present heere,
To helpe to decke her, and to help to sing,
That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring.

Wake now, my love, awake! for it is time;
The Rosy Morne long since left Tithones bed,
All ready to her silver coche to clyme;
And Phoebus gins to shew his glorious hed.
Hark! how the cheerefull birds do chaunt theyr laies
And carroll of Loves praise.
The merry Larke hir mattins sings aloft;
The Thrush replyes; the Mavis descant playes;
The Ouzell shrills; the Ruddock warbles soft;
So goodly all agree, with sweet consent,
To this dayes merriment.
Ah! my deere love, why doe ye sleepe thus long?
When meeter were that ye should now awake,
T’ awayt the comming of your joyous make,
And hearken to the birds love-learnèd song,
The deawy leaves among!
Nor they of joy and pleasance to you sing,
That all the woods them answer, and theyr eccho ring.

My love is now awake out of her dreames,
And her fayre eyes, like stars that dimmèd were
With darksome cloud, now shew theyr goodly beams
More bright then Hesperus his head doth rere.
Come now, ye damzels, daughters of delight,
Helpe quickly her to dight:
But first come ye fayre houres, which were begot
In Joves sweet paradice of Day and Night;
Which doe the seasons of the yeare allot,
And al, that ever in this world is fayre,
Doe make and still repayre:
And ye three handmayds of the Cyprian Queene,
The which doe still adorne her beauties pride,
Helpe to addorne my beautifullest bride:
And, as ye her array, still throw betweene
Some graces to be seene;
And, as ye use to Venus, to her sing,
The whiles the woods shal answer, and your eccho ring.

Now is my love all ready forth to come:
Let all the virgins therefore well awayt:
And ye fresh boyes, that tend upon her groome,
Prepare your selves; for he is comming strayt.
Set all your things in seemely good aray,
Fit for so joyfull day:
The joyfulst day that ever sunne did see.
Faire Sun! shew forth thy favourable ray,
And let thy lifull heat not fervent be,
For feare of burning her sunshyny face,
Her beauty to disgrace.
O fayrest Phoebus! father of the Muse!
If ever I did honour thee aright,
Or sing the thing that mote thy mind delight,
Doe not thy servants simple boone refuse;
But let this day, let this one day, be myne;
Let all the rest be thine.
Then I thy soverayne prayses loud wil sing,
That all the woods shal answer, and theyr eccho ring.

Harke! how the Minstrils gin to shrill aloud
Their merry Musick that resounds from far,
The pipe, the tabor, and the trembling Croud,
That well agree withouten breach or jar.
But, most of all, the Damzels doe delite
When they their tymbrels smyte,
And thereunto doe daunce and carrol sweet,
That all the sences they doe ravish quite;
The whyles the boyes run up and downe the street,
Crying aloud with strong confusèd noyce,
As if it were one voyce,
*****, iö *****, *****, they do shout;
That even to the heavens theyr shouting shrill
Doth reach, and all the firmament doth fill;
To which the people standing all about,
As in approvance, doe thereto applaud,
And loud advaunce her laud;
And evermore they *****, ***** sing,
That al the woods them answer, and theyr eccho ring.

Loe! where she comes along with portly pace,
Lyke Phoebe, from her chamber of the East,
Arysing forth to run her mighty race,
Clad all in white, that seemes a ****** best.
So well it her beseemes, that ye would weene
Some angell she had beene.
Her long loose yellow locks lyke golden wyre,
Sprinckled with perle, and perling flowres atweene,
Doe lyke a golden mantle her attyre;
And, being crownèd with a girland greene,
Seeme lyke some mayden Queene.
Her modest eyes, abashèd to behold
So many gazers as on her do stare,
Upon the lowly ground affixèd are;
Ne dare lift up her countenance too bold,
But blush to heare her prayses sung so loud,
So farre from being proud.
Nathlesse doe ye still loud her prayses sing,
That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring.

Tell me, ye merchants daughters, did ye see
So fayre a creature in your towne before;
So sweet, so lovely, and so mild as she,
Adornd with beautyes grace and vertues store?
Her goodly eyes lyke Saphyres shining bright,
Her forehead yvory white,
Her cheekes lyke apples which the sun hath rudded,
Her lips lyke cherryes charming men to byte,
Her brest like to a bowle of creame uncrudded,
Her paps lyke lyllies budded,
Her snowie necke lyke to a marble towre;
And all her body like a pallace fayre,
Ascending up, with many a stately stayre,
To honors seat and chastities sweet bowre.
Why stand ye still ye virgins in amaze,
Upon her so to gaze,
Whiles ye forget your former lay to sing,
To which the woods did answer, and your eccho ring?

But if ye saw that which no eyes can see,
The inward beauty of her lively spright,
Garnisht with heavenly guifts of high degree,
Much more then would ye wonder at that sight,
And stand astonisht lyke to those which red
Medusaes mazeful hed.
There dwels sweet love, and constant chastity,
Unspotted fayth, and comely womanhood,
Regard of honour, and mild modesty;
There vertue raynes as Queene in royal throne,
And giveth lawes alone,
The which the base affections doe obay,
And yeeld theyr services unto her will;
Ne thought of thing uncomely ever may
Thereto approch to tempt her mind to ill.
Had ye once seene these her celestial threasures,
And unrevealèd pleasures,
Then would ye wonder, and her prayses sing,
That al the woods should answer, and your echo ring.

Open the temple gates unto my love,
Open them wide that she may enter in,
And all the postes adorne as doth behove,
And all the pillours deck with girlands trim,
For to receyve this Saynt with honour dew,
That commeth in to you.
With trembling steps, and humble reverence,
She commeth in, before th’ Almighties view;
Of her ye virgins learne obedience,
When so ye come into those holy places,
To humble your proud faces:
Bring her up to th’ high altar, that she may
The sacred ceremonies there partake,
The which do endlesse matrimony make;
And let the roring Organs loudly play
The praises of the Lord in lively notes;
The whiles, with hollow throates,
The Choristers the joyous Antheme sing,
That al the woods may answere, and their eccho ring.

Behold, whiles she before the altar stands,
Hearing the holy priest that to her speakes,
And blesseth her with his two happy hands,
How the red roses flush up in her cheekes,
And the pure snow, with goodly vermill stayne
Like crimsin dyde in grayne:
That even th’ Angels, which continually
About the sacred Altare doe remaine,
Forget their service and about her fly,
Ofte peeping in her face, that seems more fayre,
The more they on it stare.
But her sad eyes, still fastened on the ground,
Are governèd with goodly modesty,
That suffers not one looke to glaunce awry,
Which may let in a little thought unsownd.
Why blush ye, love, to give to me your hand,
The pledge of all our band!
Sing, ye sweet Angels, Alleluya sing,
That all the woods may answere, and your eccho ring.

Now al is done: bring home the bride againe;
Bring home the triumph of our victory:
Bring home with you the glory of her gaine;
With joyance bring her and with jollity.
Never had man more joyfull day then this,
Whom heaven would heape with blis,
Make feast therefore now all this live-long day;
This day for ever to me holy is.
Poure out the wine without restraint or stay,
Poure not by cups, but by the belly full,
Poure out to all that wull,
And sprinkle all the postes and wals with wine,
That they may sweat, and drunken be withall.
Crowne ye God Bacchus with a coronall,
And ***** also crowne with wreathes of vine;
And let the Graces daunce unto the rest,
For they can doo it best:
The whiles the maydens doe theyr carroll sing,
To which the woods shall answer, and theyr eccho ring.

Ring ye the bels, ye yong men of the towne,
And leave your wonted labors for this day:
This day is holy; doe ye write it downe,
That ye for ever it remember may.
This day the sunne is in his chiefest hight,
With Barnaby the bright,
From whence declining daily by degrees,
He somewhat loseth of his heat and light,
When once the Crab behind his back he sees.
But for this time it ill ordainèd was,
To chose the longest day in all the yeare,
And shortest night, when longest fitter weare:
Yet never day so long, but late would passe.
Ring ye the bels, to make it weare away,
And bonefiers make all day;
And daunce about them, and about them sing,
That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring.

Ah! when will this long weary day have end,
And lende me leave to come unto my love?
How slowly do the houres theyr numbers spend?
How slowly does sad Time his feathers move?
Hast thee, O fayrest Planet, to thy home,
Within the Westerne fome:
Thy tyrèd steedes long since have need of rest.
Long though it be, at last I see it gloome,
And the bright evening-star with golden creast
Appeare out of the East.
Fayre childe of beauty! glorious lampe of love!
That all the host of heaven in rankes doost lead,
And guydest lovers through the nights sad dread,
How chearefully thou lookest from above,
And seemst to laugh atweene thy twinkling light,
As joying in the sight
Of these glad many, which for joy doe sing,
That all the woods them answer, and their echo ring!

Now ceasse, ye damsels, your delights fore-past;
Enough it is that all the day was youres:
Now day is doen, and night is nighing fast,
Now bring the Bryde into the brydall boures.
The night is come, now soon her disaray,
And in her bed her lay;
Lay her in lillies and in violets,
And silken courteins over her display,
And odourd sheetes, and Arras coverlets.
Behold how goodly my faire love does ly,
In proud humility!
Like unto Maia, when as Jove her took
In Tempe, lying on the flowry gras,
Twixt sleepe and wake, after she weary was,
With bathing in the Acidalian brooke.
Now it is night, ye damsels may be gon,
And leave my love alone,
And leave likewise your former lay to sing:
The woods no more shall answere, nor your echo ring.

Now welcome, night! thou night so long expected,
That long daies labour doest at last defray,
And all my cares, which cruell Love collected,
Hast sumd in one, and cancellèd for aye:
Spread thy broad wing over my love and me,
That no man may us see;
And in thy sable mantle us enwrap,
From feare of perrill and foule horror free.
Let no false treason seeke us to entrap,
Nor any dread disquiet once annoy
The safety of our joy;
But let the night be calme, and quietsome,
Without tempestuous storms or sad afray:
Lyke as when Jove with fayre Alcmena lay,
When he begot the great Tirynthian groome:
Or lyke as when he with thy selfe did lie
And begot Majesty.
And let the mayds and yong men cease to sing;
Ne let the woods them answer nor theyr eccho ring.

Let no lamenting cryes, nor dolefull teares,
Be heard all night within, nor yet without:
Ne let false whispers, breeding hidden feares,
Breake gentle sleepe with misconceivèd dout.
Let no deluding dreames, nor dreadfull sights,
Make sudden sad affrights;
Ne let house-fyres, nor lightnings helpelesse harmes,
Ne let the Pouke, nor other evill sprights,
Ne let mischivous witches with theyr charmes,
Ne let hob Goblins, names whose sence we see not,
Fray us with things that be not:
Let not the shriech Oule nor the Storke be heard,
Nor the night Raven, that still deadly yels;
Nor damnèd ghosts, cald up with mighty spels,
Nor griesly vultures, make us once affeard:
Ne let th’ unpleasant Quyre of Frogs still croking
Make us to wish theyr choking.
Let none of these theyr drery accents sing;
Ne let the woods them answer, nor theyr eccho ring.

But let stil Silence trew night-watches keepe,
That sacred Peace may in assurance rayne,
And tymely Sleep, when it is tyme to sleepe,
May poure his limbs forth on your pleasant playne;
The whiles an hundred little wingèd loves,
Like divers-fethered doves,
Shall fly and flutter round about your bed,
And in the secret darke, that none reproves,
Their prety stealthes shal worke, and snares shal spread
To filch away sweet snatches of delight,
Conceald through covert night.
Ye sonnes of Venus, play your sports at will!
For greedy pleasure, carelesse of your toyes,
Thinks more upon her paradise of joyes,
Then what ye do, albe it good or ill.
All night therefore attend your merry play,
For it will soone be day:
Now none doth hinder you, that say or sing;
Ne will the woods now answer, nor your Eccho ring.

Who is the same, which at my window peepes?
Or whose is that faire face that shines so bright?
Is it not Cinthia, she that never sleepes,
But walkes about high heaven al the night?
O! fayrest goddesse, do thou not envy
My love with me to spy:
For thou likewise didst love, though now unthought,
And for a fleece of wooll, which privily
The Latmian shepherd once unto thee brought,
His pleasures with thee wrought.
Therefore to us be favorable now;
And sith of wemens labours thou hast charge,
And generation goodly dost enlarge,
Encline thy will t’effect our wishfull vow,
And the chast wombe informe with timely seed
That may our comfort breed:
Till which we cease our hopefull hap to sing;
Ne let the woods us answere, nor our Eccho ring.

And thou, great Juno! which with awful might
The lawes of wedlock still dost patronize;
And the religion of the faith first plight
With sacred rites hast taught to solemnize;
And eeke for comfort often callèd art
Of women in their smart;
Eternally bind thou this lovely band,
And all thy blessings unto us impart.
And thou, glad
And I wonder if you know how if it feels to let you go
Pages turn and tables turn
But I stand still
As you disappear into darkness
You were a shooting star
Illuminating the night sky for a second
And long after you were gone
The trace of stardust you left in the sky as you crashed and burned
Is imprinted in my head
Replaying over and over again
Lasting impression of clear light

And I wonder if you know how it feels to let you go
Orpheus and Eurydice's lasting love
Him braving the gates of the Death
Braving the Gods to get her back
Her following him up the stairs towards life
But too scared she wouldn't follow
Turning around a second too early
And remembering a second too late

And I wonder if you know how it feels to let you-
-Turning my back on you and letting you
…(go)…

And I wonder if you know how it feels to let you go
I am the shadow of the person I was with you
When you made me swallow back my love
A small heart too big for my chest I
Am there and I have not let you go I
Am not Oedipus or Hades I
Am a lonely lonely heart.
I have lost you on a ride to happiness I
Have lost you in the heat of life I
Used to play on your skin
And smile at the sight of your beauty I
Used to sleep by your side
And listen to the sounds of your heart
When at night everything was silent but you and
And I wonder
I wonder…
I wonder if you know how it feels to let you *(go).
This one is for you
Weißer Tagesanbruch. Stille. Als das Kräuseln begann,
hielt ich es für Seewind, in unser Tal kommend mit Raunen
von Salz, von baumlosen Horizonten. Aber der weiße Nebel
bewegte sich nicht; das Laub meiner Brüder blieb ausgebreitet,
regungslos.
Doch das Kräuseln kam näher – und dann
begannen meine eigenen äußersten Zweige zu prickeln, fast als wäre
ein Feuer unter ihnen entfacht, zu nah, und ihre Spitzen
trockneten und rollten sich ein.
Doch ich fürchtete mich nicht, nur
wachsam war ich.
Ich sah ihn als erster, denn ich wuchs
draußen am Weidehang, jenseits des Waldes.
Er war ein Mann, so schien es: die zwei
beweglichen Stengel, der kurze Stamm, die zwei
Arm-Äste, biegsam, jeder mit fünf laublosen
Zweigen an ihrem Ende,
und der Kopf gekrönt mit braunem oder goldenem Gras,
ein Gesicht tragend, nicht wie das geschnäbelte Gesicht eines Vogels,
eher wie das einer Blume.
Er trug eine Bürde,
einen abgeschnittenen Ast, gebogen, als er noch grün war,
Strähnen einer Rebe quer darüber gespannt. Von dieser,
sobald er sie berührte, und von seiner Stimme,
die, unähnlich der Stimme des Windes, unser Laub und unsere
Äste nicht brauchte, um ihren Klang zu vollenden,
kam das Kräuseln.
Es war aber jetzt kein Kräuseln mehr (er war nahe herangekommen und
stand in meinem ersten Schatten), es war eine Welle, die mich umspülte,
als stiege Regen
empor von unten um mich herum,
anstatt zu fallen.
Und was ich spürte, war nicht mehr ein trockenes Prickeln:
Ich schien zu singen, während er sang, ich schien zu wissen,
was die Lerche weiß; mein ganzer Saft
stieg hinauf der Sonne entgegen, die nun
aufgegangen war, der Nebel hob sich, das Gras
wurde trocken, doch meine Wurzeln spürten, wie Musik sie tränkte
tief in der Erde.

Er kam noch näher, lehnte sich an meinen Stamm:
Die Rinde erschauerte wie ein noch gefaltetes Blatt.
Musik! Kein Zweig von mir, der nicht
erbebte vor Freude und Furcht.

Dann, als er sang,
waren es nicht mehr nur Klänge, aus denen die Musik entstand:
Er sprach, und wie kein Baum zuhört, hörte ich zu, und Sprache
kam in meine Wurzeln
aus der Erde,
in meine Rinde
aus der Luft,
in die Poren meiner grünsten Knospen
sanft wie Tau,
und er sang kein Wort, das ich nicht zu deuten wußte.
Er erzählte von Reisen,
davon, wo Sonne und Mond hingehen, während wir im Dunkeln stehen,
von einer Erden-Reise, von der er träumte, sie eines Tages zu tun
tiefer als Wurzeln…
Er erzählte von den Menschenträumen, von Krieg, Leidenschaften, Gram
und ich, ein Baum, verstand die Wörter – ach, es schien,
als ob meine dicke Rinde aufplatzen würde, wie die eines Schößlings,
der zu schnell wuchs im Frühling,
so daß später Frost ihn verwundete.

Feuer besang er,
das Bäume fürchten, und ich, ein Baum, erfreute mich seiner Flammen.
Neue Knospen brachen auf in mir, wenngleich es Hochsommer war.
Als ob seine Leier (nun wußte ich ihren Namen)
zugleich Frost und Feuer wäre, ihre Akkorde flammten
hinauf bis zu meiner Krone.
Ich war wieder Samen.
Ich war Farn im Sumpf.
Ich war Kohle.
Quiet friend who has come so far,

feel how your breathing makes more space around you.

Let this darkness be a bell tower

and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.

Move back and forth into the change.

What is it like, such intensity of pain?

If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,

be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,

the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,

say to the silent earth: I flow.

To the rushing water, speak: I am.

Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29
Rainer Maria Rilke wrote this not me (obviously). I use this passage for strength when I feel the fabric of my existence becoming too thin.  Hope you enjoy...
White dawn. Stillness.When the rippling began
          I took it for sea-wind, coming to our valley with rumors
          of salt, of treeless horizons. But the white fog
didn't stir; the leaves of my brothers remained outstretched,
unmoving.
                    Yet the rippling drew nearer – and then
my own outermost branches began to tingle, almost as if
fire had been lit below them, too close, and their twig-tips
were drying and curling.
                              Yet I was not afraid, only
                              deeply alert.
I was the first to see him, for I grew
                    out on the pasture *****, beyond the forest.
He was a man, it seemed: the two
moving stems, the short trunk, the two
arm-branches, flexible, each with five leafless
                                        twigs at their ends,
and the head that's crowned by brown or golden grass,
bearing a face not like the beaked face of a bird,
                    more like a flower's.
                              He carried a burden made of
some cut branch bent while it was green,
strands of a vine tight-stretched across it. From this,
when he touched it, and from his voice
which unlike the wind's voice had no need of our
leaves and branches to complete its sound,
                                        came the ripple.
But it was now no longer a ripple (he had come near and
stopped in my first shadow) it was a wave that bathed me
                    as if rain
                              rose from below and around me
                    instead of falling.
And what I felt was no longer a dry tingling:
                    I seemed to be singing as he sang, I seemed to know
                    what the lark knows; all my sap
                              was mounting towards the sun that by now
                              had risen, the mist was rising, the grass
was drying, yet my roots felt music moisten them
deep under earth.

                    He came still closer, leaned on my trunk:
                    the bark thrilled like a leaf still-folded.
Music! There was no twig of me not
                              trembling with joy and fear.

Then as he sang
it was no longer sounds only that made the music:
he spoke, and as no tree listens I listened, and language
                    came into my roots
                              out of the earth,
                    into my bark
                              out of the air,
into the pores of my greenest shoots
          gently as dew
and there was no word he sang but I knew its meaning.
He told me of journeys,
          of where sun and moon go while we stand in dark,
          of an earth-journey he dreamed he would take some day
deeper than roots ...
He told of the dreams of man, wars, passions, griefs,
          and I, a tree, understood words – ah, it seemed
my thick bark would split like a sapling's that
                              grew too fast in the spring
when a late frost wounds it.

                                        Fire he sang,
that trees fear, and I, a tree, rejoiced in its flames.
New buds broke forth from me though it was full summer.
          As though his lyre (now I knew its name)
          were both frost and fire, its chords flamed
up to the crown of me.
          I was seed again.
                    I was fern in the swamp.
                                        I was coal.
Katherine Smith Feb 2018
darling—

i almost made it out
the house
down the slanted
           concrete
                      steps
i nearly passed the garden gate
with tired
        ivy
            crawlers
for a moment i thought i was free
no ghosts
       no ashen memories—
But bags in hand i couldn't help
and took
     a glance
            behind.
I used to hate the myth of Orpheus, I think it's because I was scared of making the same mistake.
Mateuš Conrad Nov 2015
it’s not everyday you get to end a 7 year psychosis
when redecorating your room to it’s “original” crimson,
having had such a simple symptom as
brain cell membranes breaking and oozing blood out,
to be misdiagnosed as mentally insane,
and when in need of help from the haemorrhage
not driven to the hospital due to the lack of *******
of having proceeded with the deed but forgetting the onslaught of law
in favour of the hurt party... well...what can you do?
move on, as i’m trying, had it been naturally based
on genetic chronology / genealogy i would have suffered in vain...
but i’m brimming with a hate for islam, and there’s nothing
to do but calm the quasi-communist protestors
in the western lands... ******* calm down... you’ll get
your freedom of speech... once you stop trying to censor vocabulary...
there’s no point learning a language if it becomes
politicised and you tell me to block vowels or consonants
in a non-kabbalistic way (which i’ll come to):
so yeah, a 7 year psychosis over a needle in a haystack...
gives me the shivers...
the many times i thought about killing someone
and feeding the emotions with not doing the act...
so many times i was almost skeletally biased to churn the
marrow haemoglobin into tendon stressor action of taking
the knife and doing halal or kosher with someone...
many a times...as many a times i saw crucifixions in edinburgh
not knowing it was going to happen in syria,
and that night when a muslim tried to mug me
in brick lane breaking down in the street of revellers
kneeling in tears screaming a prayer with tears in my eyes
of only one word: allah.
so i started redecorating my room, crimson is back from
hospital white... my bookshelf is rearranged...
on the left on the top shelf fictional books i either read
or didn’t bother to read because of the movies...
to the right on the shelf psychiatric and philosophical books...
the next shelf is a poetry “corner,” well it elongates beyond the corner...
and it’s split by a dictionary with the right bit of the shelf filled
with english poetry and some literature that’s poetic, and french,
the dictionary is planted to segregate the poetry books,
to the left of the dictionary is a book of greek myths
(did you know all greek theology is derived from the new testament
and not from the testament of orpheus or hercules or Perseus?),
then a book on meditative kabblah... then polish books of poetry.
so i rearranged the room, but i also lodged
an essayist’s book on melancholia, a book on depression
a book on an intro. to jung and a book on
schizophrenia lodged between these massive collections:
to the left all the art books... to the right all the books concerning chemistry...
so the books in between can’t really be seen.
as of today i woke with a p.s. from dreams, or a p.s. in dreams,
i woke and imagined myself talking to my mother
about the identity of al-dajjal... the false messiah,
within the conscious realm i just said the words out of the window:
fool you fool me, when mecca / medina become west of paris / london,
i’ll accept riyadh to be east of tehran / new delhi...
then we'll marginalise plateau east with copernican east
via the stars, and wander aimlessly trying to copper-fill
the sun at sunset...
he (muhammad) said the man would be of his nation,
and he said so with a warning...
but ibn saud got away weighing in at 160kg, diabetic and a brawler
with the stomach, the decadent of all that choose either sugary decadence
or some other form of mental instability in the chosen trade of stolen organs.
me? i keep my sanity with the tetragrammaton, cipher this:
this numerology *******, and it is ******* will not do...
enter platonic forms:
y is so so much more than just 25...
what will you see through y with the number 25?
what? nothing, dry brute that i am...
Y represent 3 dimensional space...
the first h is not important given the second h... which is deja vu,
which is less than what malachi insisted with the fractioned god of
the fractioned “elijah” reincarnated...
deja vu can be explained with science as one of the brain’s tricks
to sense this familiarity of seeing an elephant and acknowledging
the five blind men touching it up for comparative jokes,
the W... well... at least it’s not M... given that the trigonometric cosine continuum
begins at 1.... god is one... ring a bell? well better that than
beginning with the trigonometric sine continuum, which begins with 0...
forget numerology... numbers and letters aren’t related...
forget the dogmatism of rabbis - it makes no sense to say a = 1, b = 2 etc.
and then take a word like ape, and say: ‘ah, a = 1, p = 16 and e = 5; by god!
that’s a kabbalistic synonymity of the word... pea!’
where’s the jolly green giant when you need him, eh?
just look at what a phonetic symbol represents...
like secondary darwinism of a primate hissing to alert the presence
of a snake... past darwinism... past drawing antelopes
in french caves... in the realm of abstract phoneticism that
gave us the cognitive genesis... and made as... dare i say... a bit myopic
in a solipsistic sense.
p.s. ah... what are the newspapers saying?
slapstick humour is one of the prime causes of dementia? huh?!
yes, prime minister... is satire comedy?
how the hell can yes, prime minister be categorised as satire
if it uses canned laughter?
see that bloke over there... doing the omnivore pelican dance?
he joked so readily and active that he created authentic laughter...
don’t know where your satire is going... but it certainly left me gagging
for a springroll.
now now... absurdist comedy is too oxbridge for me...
kings and gentlemen get educated in either st. andrew’s or edinburgh...
we laugh at ourselves.
alt. to canned laughter, given that "canned laughter"
is reserved for the authentic laughter of the crowd
at a live show? what's the antonym of canned laughter
in televised satire? picky laughter... i.e. only one person
in an schoolroom of 30 gets the joke, apart from the comedian...
that lonely everest ha ha... ooh chills, frozen prawns in gravy.
There are who lord it o'er their fellow-men
With most prevailing tinsel: who unpen
Their baaing vanities, to browse away
The comfortable green and juicy hay
From human pastures; or, O torturing fact!
Who, through an idiot blink, will see unpack'd
Fire-branded foxes to sear up and singe
Our gold and ripe-ear'd hopes. With not one tinge
Of sanctuary splendour, not a sight
Able to face an owl's, they still are dight
By the blear-eyed nations in empurpled vests,
And crowns, and turbans. With unladen *******,
Save of blown self-applause, they proudly mount
To their spirit's perch, their being's high account,
Their tiptop nothings, their dull skies, their thrones--
Amid the fierce intoxicating tones
Of trumpets, shoutings, and belabour'd drums,
And sudden cannon. Ah! how all this hums,
In wakeful ears, like uproar past and gone--
Like thunder clouds that spake to Babylon,
And set those old Chaldeans to their tasks.--
Are then regalities all gilded masks?
No, there are throned seats unscalable
But by a patient wing, a constant spell,
Or by ethereal things that, unconfin'd,
Can make a ladder of the eternal wind,
And poise about in cloudy thunder-tents
To watch the abysm-birth of elements.
Aye, 'bove the withering of old-lipp'd Fate
A thousand Powers keep religious state,
In water, fiery realm, and airy bourne;
And, silent as a consecrated urn,
Hold sphery sessions for a season due.
Yet few of these far majesties, ah, few!
Have bared their operations to this globe--
Few, who with gorgeous pageantry enrobe
Our piece of heaven--whose benevolence
Shakes hand with our own Ceres; every sense
Filling with spiritual sweets to plenitude,
As bees gorge full their cells. And, by the feud
'Twixt Nothing and Creation, I here swear,
Eterne Apollo! that thy Sister fair
Is of all these the gentlier-mightiest.
When thy gold breath is misting in the west,
She unobserved steals unto her throne,
And there she sits most meek and most alone;
As if she had not pomp subservient;
As if thine eye, high Poet! was not bent
Towards her with the Muses in thine heart;
As if the ministring stars kept not apart,
Waiting for silver-footed messages.
O Moon! the oldest shades '**** oldest trees
Feel palpitations when thou lookest in:
O Moon! old boughs lisp forth a holier din
The while they feel thine airy fellowship.
Thou dost bless every where, with silver lip
Kissing dead things to life. The sleeping kine,
Couched in thy brightness, dream of fields divine:
Innumerable mountains rise, and rise,
Ambitious for the hallowing of thine eyes;
And yet thy benediction passeth not
One obscure hiding-place, one little spot
Where pleasure may be sent: the nested wren
Has thy fair face within its tranquil ken,
And from beneath a sheltering ivy leaf
Takes glimpses of thee; thou art a relief
To the poor patient oyster, where it sleeps
Within its pearly house.--The mighty deeps,
The monstrous sea is thine--the myriad sea!
O Moon! far-spooming Ocean bows to thee,
And Tellus feels his forehead's cumbrous load.

  Cynthia! where art thou now? What far abode
Of green or silvery bower doth enshrine
Such utmost beauty? Alas, thou dost pine
For one as sorrowful: thy cheek is pale
For one whose cheek is pale: thou dost bewail
His tears, who weeps for thee. Where dost thou sigh?
Ah! surely that light peeps from Vesper's eye,
Or what a thing is love! 'Tis She, but lo!
How chang'd, how full of ache, how gone in woe!
She dies at the thinnest cloud; her loveliness
Is wan on Neptune's blue: yet there's a stress
Of love-spangles, just off yon cape of trees,
Dancing upon the waves, as if to please
The curly foam with amorous influence.
O, not so idle: for down-glancing thence
She fathoms eddies, and runs wild about
O'erwhelming water-courses; scaring out
The thorny sharks from hiding-holes, and fright'ning
Their savage eyes with unaccustomed lightning.
Where will the splendor be content to reach?
O love! how potent hast thou been to teach
Strange journeyings! Wherever beauty dwells,
In gulf or aerie, mountains or deep dells,
In light, in gloom, in star or blazing sun,
Thou pointest out the way, and straight 'tis won.
Amid his toil thou gav'st Leander breath;
Thou leddest Orpheus through the gleams of death;
Thou madest Pluto bear thin element;
And now, O winged Chieftain! thou hast sent
A moon-beam to the deep, deep water-world,
To find Endymion.

                  On gold sand impearl'd
With lily shells, and pebbles milky white,
Poor Cynthia greeted him, and sooth'd her light
Against his pallid face: he felt the charm
To breathlessness, and suddenly a warm
Of his heart's blood: 'twas very sweet; he stay'd
His wandering steps, and half-entranced laid
His head upon a tuft of straggling weeds,
To taste the gentle moon, and freshening beads,
Lashed from the crystal roof by fishes' tails.
And so he kept, until the rosy veils
Mantling the east, by Aurora's peering hand
Were lifted from the water's breast, and fann'd
Into sweet air; and sober'd morning came
Meekly through billows:--when like taper-flame
Left sudden by a dallying breath of air,
He rose in silence, and once more 'gan fare
Along his fated way.

                      Far had he roam'd,
With nothing save the hollow vast, that foam'd
Above, around, and at his feet; save things
More dead than Morpheus' imaginings:
Old rusted anchors, helmets, breast-plates large
Of gone sea-warriors; brazen beaks and targe;
Rudders that for a hundred years had lost
The sway of human hand; gold vase emboss'd
With long-forgotten story, and wherein
No reveller had ever dipp'd a chin
But those of Saturn's vintage; mouldering scrolls,
Writ in the tongue of heaven, by those souls
Who first were on the earth; and sculptures rude
In ponderous stone, developing the mood
Of ancient Nox;--then skeletons of man,
Of beast, behemoth, and leviathan,
And elephant, and eagle, and huge jaw
Of nameless monster. A cold leaden awe
These secrets struck into him; and unless
Dian had chaced away that heaviness,
He might have died: but now, with cheered feel,
He onward kept; wooing these thoughts to steal
About the labyrinth in his soul of love.

  "What is there in thee, Moon! that thou shouldst move
My heart so potently? When yet a child
I oft have dried my tears when thou hast smil'd.
Thou seem'dst my sister: hand in hand we went
From eve to morn across the firmament.
No apples would I gather from the tree,
Till thou hadst cool'd their cheeks deliciously:
No tumbling water ever spake romance,
But when my eyes with thine thereon could dance:
No woods were green enough, no bower divine,
Until thou liftedst up thine eyelids fine:
In sowing time ne'er would I dibble take,
Or drop a seed, till thou wast wide awake;
And, in the summer tide of blossoming,
No one but thee hath heard me blithly sing
And mesh my dewy flowers all the night.
No melody was like a passing spright
If it went not to solemnize thy reign.
Yes, in my boyhood, every joy and pain
By thee were fashion'd to the self-same end;
And as I grew in years, still didst thou blend
With all my ardours: thou wast the deep glen;
Thou wast the mountain-top--the sage's pen--
The poet's harp--the voice of friends--the sun;
Thou wast the river--thou wast glory won;
Thou wast my clarion's blast--thou wast my steed--
My goblet full of wine--my topmost deed:--
Thou wast the charm of women, lovely Moon!
O what a wild and harmonized tune
My spirit struck from all the beautiful!
On some bright essence could I lean, and lull
Myself to immortality: I prest
Nature's soft pillow in a wakeful rest.
But, gentle Orb! there came a nearer bliss--
My strange love came--Felicity's abyss!
She came, and thou didst fade, and fade away--
Yet not entirely; no, thy starry sway
Has been an under-passion to this hour.
Now I begin to feel thine orby power
Is coming fresh upon me: O be kind,
Keep back thine influence, and do not blind
My sovereign vision.--Dearest love, forgive
That I can think away from thee and live!--
Pardon me, airy planet, that I prize
One thought beyond thine argent luxuries!
How far beyond!" At this a surpris'd start
Frosted the springing verdure of his heart;
For as he lifted up his eyes to swear
How his own goddess was past all things fair,
He saw far in the concave green of the sea
An old man sitting calm and peacefully.
Upon a weeded rock this old man sat,
And his white hair was awful, and a mat
Of weeds were cold beneath his cold thin feet;
And, ample as the largest winding-sheet,
A cloak of blue wrapp'd up his aged bones,
O'erwrought with symbols by the deepest groans
Of ambitious magic: every ocean-form
Was woven in with black distinctness; storm,
And calm, and whispering, and hideous roar
Were emblem'd in the woof; with every shape
That skims, or dives, or sleeps, 'twixt cape and cape.
The gulphing whale was like a dot in the spell,
Yet look upon it, and 'twould size and swell
To its huge self; and the minutest fish
Would pass the very hardest gazer's wish,
And show his little eye's anatomy.
Then there was pictur'd the regality
Of Neptune; and the sea nymphs round his state,
In beauteous vassalage, look up and wait.
Beside this old man lay a pearly wand,
And in his lap a book, the which he conn'd
So stedfastly, that the new denizen
Had time to keep him in amazed ken,
To mark these shadowings, and stand in awe.

  The old man rais'd his hoary head and saw
The wilder'd stranger--seeming not to see,
His features were so lifeless. Suddenly
He woke as from a trance; his snow-white brows
Went arching up, and like two magic ploughs
Furrow'd deep wrinkles in his forehead large,
Which kept as fixedly as rocky marge,
Till round his wither'd lips had gone a smile.
Then up he rose, like one whose tedious toil
Had watch'd for years in forlorn hermitage,
Who had not from mid-life to utmost age
Eas'd in one accent his o'er-burden'd soul,
Even to the trees. He rose: he grasp'd his stole,
With convuls'd clenches waving it abroad,
And in a voice of solemn joy, that aw'd
Echo into oblivion, he said:--

  "Thou art the man! Now shall I lay my head
In peace upon my watery pillow: now
Sleep will come smoothly to my weary brow.
O Jove! I shall be young again, be young!
O shell-borne Neptune, I am pierc'd and stung
With new-born life! What shall I do? Where go,
When I have cast this serpent-skin of woe?--
I'll swim to the syrens, and one moment listen
Their melodies, and see their long hair glisten;
Anon upon that giant's arm I'll be,
That writhes about the roots of Sicily:
To northern seas I'll in a twinkling sail,
And mount upon the snortings of a whale
To some black cloud; thence down I'll madly sweep
On forked lightning, to the deepest deep,
Where through some ******* pool I will be hurl'd
With rapture to the other side of the world!
O, I am full of gladness! Sisters three,
I bow full hearted to your old decree!
Yes, every god be thank'd, and power benign,
For I no more shall wither, droop, and pine.
Thou art the man!" Endymion started back
Dismay'd; and, like a wretch from whom the rack
Tortures hot breath, and speech of agony,
Mutter'd: "What lonely death am I to die
In this cold region? Will he let me freeze,
And float my brittle limbs o'er polar seas?
Or will he touch me with his searing hand,
And leave a black memorial on the sand?
Or tear me piece-meal with a bony saw,
And keep me as a chosen food to draw
His magian fish through hated fire and flame?
O misery of hell! resistless, tame,
Am I to be burnt up? No, I will shout,
Until the gods through heaven's blue look out!--
O Tartarus! but some few days agone
Her soft arms were entwining me, and on
Her voice I hung like fruit among green leaves:
Her lips were all my own, and--ah, ripe sheaves
Of happiness! ye on the stubble droop,
But never may be garner'd. I must stoop
My head, and kiss death's foot. Love! love, farewel!
Is there no hope from thee? This horrid spell
Would melt at thy sweet breath.--By Dian's hind
Feeding from her white fingers, on the wind
I see thy streaming hair! and now, by Pan,
I care not for this old mysterious man!"

  He spake, and walking to that aged form,
Look'd high defiance. Lo! his heart 'gan warm
With pity, for the grey-hair'd creature wept.
Had he then wrong'd a heart where sorrow kept?
Had he, though blindly contumelious, brought
Rheum to kind eyes, a sting to human thought,
Convulsion to a mouth of many years?
He had in truth; and he was ripe for tears.
The penitent shower fell, as down he knelt
Before that care-worn sage, who trembling felt
About his large dark locks, and faultering spake:

  "Arise, good youth, for sacred Phoebus' sake!
I know thine inmost *****, and I feel
A very brother's yearning for thee steal
Into mine own: for why? thou openest
The prison gates that have so long opprest
My weary watching. Though thou know'st it not,
Thou art commission'd to this fated spot
For great enfranchisement. O weep no more;
I am a friend to love, to loves of yore:
Aye, hadst thou never lov'd an unknown power
I had been grieving at this joyous hour
But even now most miserable old,
I saw thee, and my blood no longer cold
Gave mighty pulses: in this tottering case
Grew a new heart, which at this moment plays
As dancingly as thine. Be not afraid,
For thou shalt hear this secret all display'd,
Now as we speed towards our joyous task."

  So saying, this young soul in age's mask
Went forward with the Carian side by side:
Resuming quickly thus; while ocean's tide
Hung swollen at their backs, and jewel'd sands
Took silently their foot-prints. "My soul stands
Now past the midway from mortality,
And so I can prepare without a sigh
To tell thee briefly all my joy and pain.
I was a fisher once, upon this main,
And my boat danc'd in every creek and bay;
Rough billows were my home by night and day,--
The sea-gulls not more constant; for I had
No housing from the storm and tempests mad,
But hollow rocks,--and they were palaces
Of silent happiness, of slumberous ease:
Long years of misery have told me so.
Aye, thus it was one thousand years ago.
One thousand years!--Is it then possible
To look so plainly through them? to dispel
A thousand years with backward glance sublime?
To breathe away as 'twere all scummy slime
From off a crystal pool, to see its deep,
And one's own image from the bottom peep?
Yes: now I am no longer wretched thrall,
My long captivity and moanings all
Are but a slime, a thin-pervading ****,
The which I breathe away, and thronging come
Like things of yesterday my youthful pleasures.

  "I touch'd no lute, I sang not, trod no measures:
I was a lonely youth on desert shores.
My sports were lonely, 'mid continuous roars,
And craggy isles, and sea-mew's plaintive cry
Plaining discrepant between sea and sky.
Dolphins were still my playmates; shapes unseen
Would let me feel their scales of gold and green,
Nor be my desolation; and, full oft,
When a dread waterspout had rear'd aloft
Its hungry hugeness, seeming ready ripe
To burst with hoarsest thunderings, and wipe
My life away like a vast sponge of fate,
Some friendly monster, pitying my sad state,
Has dived to its foundations, gulph'd it down,
And left me tossing safely. But the crown
Of all my life was utmost quietude:
More did I love to lie in cavern rude,
Keeping in wait whole days for Neptune's voice,
And if it came at last, hark, and rejoice!
There blush'd no summer eve but I would steer
My skiff along green shelving coasts, to hear
The shepherd's pipe come clear from aery steep,
Mingled with ceaseless bleatings of his sheep:
And never was a day of summer shine,
But I beheld its birth upon the brine:
For I would watch all night to see unfold
Heaven's gates, and Aethon snort his morning gold
Wide o'er the swelling streams: and constantly
At brim of day-tide, on some grassy lea,
My nets would be spread out, and I at rest.
The poor folk of the sea-country I blest
With daily boon of fish most delicate:
They knew not whence this bounty, and elate
Would strew sweet flowers on a sterile beach.

  "Why was I not contented? Wherefore reach
At things which, but for thee, O Latmian!
Had been my dreary death? Fool! I began
To feel distemper'd longings: to desire
The utmost priv
Sarah Jul 2015
When you told me
I was beautiful
I knew that you
believed it
and when you
wrote me that
acoustic song
I knew that you
could feel it
Tuesday,
when you sent me
flowers, well
I knew that I was
important
but when you held me in your
arms
and you told me the Greek tale
of Orpheus and Eurydice
and you told me to look
to the moon where
Jupiter was floating
with Venus
all on the sky-stage
of dusk and star-
fall
well,
then,
I knew you loved me
and I knew I
loved you too.
Elizabeth Mayo May 2013
have you seen Eurydice
and did she kiss you with gold on her tongue,
and when she bit your lips like a ripe-bruised fruit
did you taste the metal-black sheen of your blood?
and when you rowed her down the river did
her white chemise trail, unblackened, through the mud?
and if she kissed you, I don't blame her;
the Holy Ghost receives her subjects, penitents, lovers
with all the love in her wilder heart,
so tell me, brother Charon,
have you seen Eurydice?
I'd hoped she'd be in the river-weeds,
drawn down to the water from her faery meads.
Cody Edwards Apr 2010
Sing to me, O dark vault of night.

The divine muse is upon me;
Up on my shoulders.
She doesn’t appear to have
anything instructive to say
apart from “And how the ruddy,
blasted, Viking-snogging,
******, ******, mother-defecating
hell did I get up here!?”

Inspiring words indeed.
© Cody Edwards 2010
Michael R Burch Mar 2020
Orpheus
by Michael R. Burch

after William Blake

I.

Many a sun
and many a moon
I walked the earth
and whistled a tune.

I did not whistle
as I worked:
the whistle was my work.
I shirked

nothing I saw
and made a rhyme
to children at play
and hard time.

II.

Among the prisoners
I saw
the leaden manacles
of Law,

the heavy ball and chain,
the quirt.
And yet I whistled
at my work.

III.

Among the children’s
daisy faces
and in the women’s
frowsy laces,

I saw redemption,
and I smiled.
Satanic millers,
unbeguiled,

were swayed by neither girl,
nor child,
nor any God of Love.
Yet mild

I whistled at my work,
and Song
broke out,
ere long.

Keywords/Tags: Orpheus, singer, poet, William Blake, whistle, Satanic, mills, manacles, law, leaden, ball, chain, prison, song, freedom
She thought that he was her Orpheus
but he never came back for her,
when he was supposed to* -
sometimes love is even more tragic
than death
..

(l.p)
The story of Orpheus and Eurydice keeps haunting me. It's so beautiful and tragic at the same time. Orpheus travels to the under world to get Eurydice back and he can succeed; one condition;  he can't look back to see if Eurydice is with him until they've reached the real world - but Orpheus looks back when he has passed the gates only to watch Eurydice fade away into the arms of Death  because she hadn't passed the gates yet - they got reunited when Orpheus was killed.
Will May 2014
I frequently attempt to capture home on a canvas
But despite all the good this does my soul
oils and turpentine do little for the city of Atlanta
If you were to ask me why I loved Atlanta.
You would know me as you would a brother
My first kiss
my best friends who no longer live there
that time when me and Jacob were so ******* over it that we spent 4 hours throwing rocks at the Chattahoochee hoping it would change something

And know nothing of I-285, Jimmy Carter, or Hartsfield-Jackson

And as I explain love.
With little interest in its subject
I feel that Orpheus would have empathized
Will May 2014
Nowhere has felt so right as Atlanta
once did
I would give anything in the world
to have those experiences again
and I wouldn’t change a ******* thing
but I know now
Atlanta is but a husk of what it once was
the life has left it
merely meaningful memories remain

And I can only hope that I’ve learned from Orpheus’s folly
maybe this time I’ll not try to rob the grave


When Robert comes back
We’re gonna go visit Jacob
he left too
and pretend like its old times again
I’m terrified to see them
because I haven’t been cleaning the wounds
or taking my medicine
And I know.
we’re only passing through
to look back
and say goodbye
Rose L Apr 2018
We are creatures made ill;
by the decision to remember or forget our many exhausted selves,
Those familiar faces
Worn from the weight of self birth.
I do often see
See sight of familiar eyes ….
A memory fresh in your palms
Appearing most often at night,
When the barriers to duality falter and
momentarily, our hearts align.
Most likely it is just the pulsing of flesh that feels to us like presence.

So young to have the misfortune of a rot.
A sepsis caught from the spit of the past,
Asked falsely back by laments,
Cast into your own ether at self expense.
Hence, it appears worthy of thanks,
that the one with whom I shared a skull no longer gives me fear.
Anxiety, sheer dried flesh that brought me close to death,
For years, I have not tasted her iron on my breath.
Retrospective thanks, perhaps, that bring a memory back?
Easy. Wonder, where that shade hides,
For it’s true — we grow and shed, but keep our baby eyes.
I didn’t perform my own last rites,
So then perhaps it is my own shadow, cast by two lights.
It’s important, not to forget to worry.
Worry of your own mimesis, flesh imitation
Poetry’s invitation, in this developing obituary,
with each memory dragged from stale dirt with wary hands,
Serving to marry that past and present —
The act of burying that younger girl I cannot see —
Forming a shadow of its own, and killing my Eurydice!
I know the danger of Calliope’s hyperbole.

How worthy I am now, of love and life.
Tangible hours, warm and empty nights,
dripped in February sun, October ice.
Fresh and scented air.
Now these days, they pass with eloquence,
Joy exists, and this is evidence.
What’s strong in me, force that fills my once cold thighs and stomach,
Fruit and wine, yes — but most of all, the years of age gained living with death as a child.
Exiled from my own body, only to return old, but carrying the capacity,
the ability to be unrelentingly happy.
There are some things you never gain again after being lost.
Innocence —  those snowdrops don't return after a frost.
Innocence, something I'm not sure I wanted anyway.
Unlike Orpheus, my dead Eurydice had a single life.
My glance is as his, far from pulling her from the Underworld,
That old and broken lover is kept inside by hindsight.
But I offer to the Underworld, that blinding grey I now have so happily forgot,
That blinding grey haunted, I imagine, by the shade I share a name with,
This final lament to the lost years.
I know now to not flee fears that surround my own myth.
A confession and a celebration, my own libation —
dedicated to a prayer that they stay dead, forever.
Will May 2014
Last December I drove 13 hours to spend 2 days in Atlanta
with no intent to stay any longer
If you had asked,
I had to “fix some issues back home”
there was nothing wrong there.

Two days earlier I had signed my summer away
I didn’t tell anyone
New York had called.
Guilt overwhelmed me
I had betrayed my love

Nobody requested my return
and although they were happy to see me
they told me I shouldn’t have
-but it meant a lot to them-
that’s not why I went back
It was only for mental health

As I veil my own personal insecurities and suffering
behind a selfless and insignificant gesture
intending to bring nothing back with me
I feel that Orpheus would have done the same
Laokos Oct 2020
i am Orpheus in the clouds
playing clown for the masses.

i'm half of the shaft of light
breaking mosaically into
millions of pieces across the kitchen floor.

i'm a smoky chandelier swaying with
the bravado of a censure on high-holy-day.

i'm the royal velvet lining your blood.

i am a poem, without reason, read to you
by a stranger.

i am 200 tons of cracked granite one thousand
feet above you splitting off from the face of
the mountain.

but more so than any of that,

i'm a peculiar kind
of nothing

typing words onto
screens before
i die.
Casper J Oct 2013
Consciousness,
mindfulness,
philosophical enlightenment -
Live for the **** of it.
Camus was right to breathe in spite of the tide of crushing emptiness.
The boulder gets heavy,
the bones grow weary,
the mountain is steep and we are steeped in irony.
For life can be deadly and death's rows of gravestones mark homes for freed slaves,
their crossed arms hiding scars
left by the teeth of nihilistic grief beatings and
surgery scalpels set to carve by
frequent false
alarms.

Sisyphus took but one break,
to hear the chains rattled from the gates,
hellish obsidian, vermilion flames licking lumps of silica grains
mixed with ash and a black tar splash.

And Orpheus sighed on the lyre and brought tears to the eyes of the most vile,
while Sisyphus
paused -
not long,
but a lifetime for those still free to subside
to dust, from blood and guts,
when their time arrives.

The trials of life,
the striving rites and lavish gifts of light to defy
the black and empty dusk still fail.
Eurydice grows pale as Orpheus turns to see her cheeks
losing every trace of peach hue,
eyes emptying,
lungs leaking their
last gale.

Struggling again, Sisyphus is sent
tumbling down the face of the great mountain,
grabbing gravel and sand and gashing gaps in his hard leather hands.
Bleeding ash,
not blood,
hot red mud dripping from the thick lacerations,
mixing with the sickening avalanche of wasted effort and waylaid plans.
Repeating the climb up the steep peak,
bones creaking like a clock's gears,
rattling off the seconds,
minutes,
hours,
years
until the watch stops its
panicked hands.

Until then we will toil unswayed
as we wear stones to clay,
carving winding paths in spirals up the mountain's waist.
No calm for those with breath,
no rest for beating hearts.
We must live in spite of life,
and then sink silent
to the earth.
Muse of the many-twinkling feet! whose charms
Are now extended up from legs to arms;
Terpsichore!—too long misdeemed a maid—
Reproachful term—bestowed but to upbraid—
Henceforth in all the bronze of brightness shine,
The least a Vestal of the ****** Nine.
Far be from thee and thine the name of *****:
Mocked yet triumphant; sneered at, unsubdued;
Thy legs must move to conquer as they fly,
If but thy coats are reasonably high!
Thy breast—if bare enough—requires no shield;
Dance forth—sans armour thou shalt take the field
And own—impregnable to most assaults,
Thy not too lawfully begotten “Waltz.”

  Hail, nimble Nymph! to whom the young hussar,
The whiskered votary of Waltz and War,
His night devotes, despite of spur and boots;
A sight unmatched since Orpheus and his brutes:
Hail, spirit-stirring Waltz!—beneath whose banners
A modern hero fought for modish manners;
On Hounslow’s heath to rival Wellesley’s fame,
Cocked, fired, and missed his man—but gained his aim;
Hail, moving muse! to whom the fair one’s breast
Gives all it can, and bids us take the rest.
Oh! for the flow of Busby, or of Fitz,
The latter’s loyalty, the former’s wits,
To “energise the object I pursue,”
And give both Belial and his Dance their due!

  Imperial Waltz! imported from the Rhine
(Famed for the growth of pedigrees and wine),
Long be thine import from all duty free,
And Hock itself be less esteemed than thee;
In some few qualities alike—for Hock
Improves our cellar—thou our living stock.
The head to Hock belongs—thy subtler art
Intoxicates alone the heedless heart:
Through the full veins thy gentler poison swims,
And wakes to Wantonness the willing limbs.

  Oh, Germany! how much to thee we owe,
As heaven-born Pitt can testify below,
Ere cursed Confederation made thee France’s,
And only left us thy d—d debts and dances!
Of subsidies and Hanover bereft,
We bless thee still—George the Third is left!
Of kings the best—and last, not least in worth,
For graciously begetting George the Fourth.
To Germany, and Highnesses serene,
Who owe us millions—don’t we owe the Queen?
To Germany, what owe we not besides?
So oft bestowing Brunswickers and brides;
Who paid for ******, with her royal blood,
Drawn from the stem of each Teutonic stud:
Who sent us—so be pardoned all her faults—
A dozen dukes, some kings, a Queen—and Waltz.

  But peace to her—her Emperor and Diet,
Though now transferred to Buonapartè’s “fiat!”
Back to my theme—O muse of Motion! say,
How first to Albion found thy Waltz her way?

  Borne on the breath of Hyperborean gales,
From Hamburg’s port (while Hamburg yet had mails),
Ere yet unlucky Fame—compelled to creep
To snowy Gottenburg-was chilled to sleep;
Or, starting from her slumbers, deigned arise,
Heligoland! to stock thy mart with lies;
While unburnt Moscow yet had news to send,
Nor owed her fiery Exit to a friend,
She came—Waltz came—and with her certain sets
Of true despatches, and as true Gazettes;
Then flamed of Austerlitz the blest despatch,
Which Moniteur nor Morning Post can match
And—almost crushed beneath the glorious news—
Ten plays, and forty tales of Kotzebue’s;
One envoy’s letters, six composer’s airs,
And loads from Frankfort and from Leipsic fairs:
Meiners’ four volumes upon Womankind,
Like Lapland witches to ensure a wind;
Brunck’s heaviest tome for ballast, and, to back it,
Of Heynè, such as should not sink the packet.

  Fraught with this cargo—and her fairest freight,
Delightful Waltz, on tiptoe for a Mate,
The welcome vessel reached the genial strand,
And round her flocked the daughters of the land.
Not decent David, when, before the ark,
His grand Pas-seul excited some remark;
Not love-lorn Quixote, when his Sancho thought
The knight’s Fandango friskier than it ought;
Not soft Herodias, when, with winning tread,
Her nimble feet danced off another’s head;
Not Cleopatra on her Galley’s Deck,
Displayed so much of leg or more of neck,
Than Thou, ambrosial Waltz, when first the Moon
Beheld thee twirling to a Saxon tune!

  To You, ye husbands of ten years! whose brows
Ache with the annual tributes of a spouse;
To you of nine years less, who only bear
The budding sprouts of those that you shall wear,
With added ornaments around them rolled
Of native brass, or law-awarded gold;
To You, ye Matrons, ever on the watch
To mar a son’s, or make a daughter’s match;
To You, ye children of—whom chance accords—
Always the Ladies, and sometimes their Lords;
To You, ye single gentlemen, who seek
Torments for life, or pleasures for a week;
As Love or ***** your endeavours guide,
To gain your own, or ****** another’s bride;—
To one and all the lovely Stranger came,
And every Ball-room echoes with her name.

  Endearing Waltz!—to thy more melting tune
Bow Irish Jig, and ancient Rigadoon.
Scotch reels, avaunt! and Country-dance forego
Your future claims to each fantastic toe!
Waltz—Waltz alone—both legs and arms demands,
Liberal of feet, and lavish of her hands;
Hands which may freely range in public sight
Where ne’er before—but—pray “put out the light.”
Methinks the glare of yonder chandelier
Shines much too far—or I am much too near;
And true, though strange—Waltz whispers this remark,
“My slippery steps are safest in the dark!”
But here the Muse with due decorum halts,
And lends her longest petticoat to “Waltz.”

  Observant Travellers of every time!
Ye Quartos published upon every clime!
0 say, shall dull Romaika’s heavy round,
Fandango’s wriggle, or Bolero’s bound;
Can Egypt’s Almas—tantalising group—
Columbia’s caperers to the warlike Whoop—
Can aught from cold Kamschatka to Cape Horn
With Waltz compare, or after Waltz be born?
Ah, no! from Morier’s pages down to Galt’s,
Each tourist pens a paragraph for “Waltz.”

  Shades of those Belles whose reign began of yore,
With George the Third’s—and ended long before!—
Though in your daughters’ daughters yet you thrive,
Burst from your lead, and be yourselves alive!
Back to the Ball-room speed your spectred host,
Fool’s Paradise is dull to that you lost.
No treacherous powder bids Conjecture quake;
No stiff-starched stays make meddling fingers ache;
(Transferred to those ambiguous things that ape
Goats in their visage, women in their shape;)
No damsel faints when rather closely pressed,
But more caressing seems when most caressed;
Superfluous Hartshorn, and reviving Salts,
Both banished by the sovereign cordial “Waltz.”

  Seductive Waltz!—though on thy native shore
Even Werter’s self proclaimed thee half a *****;
Werter—to decent vice though much inclined,
Yet warm, not wanton; dazzled, but not blind—
Though gentle Genlis, in her strife with Staël,
Would even proscribe thee from a Paris ball;
The fashion hails—from Countesses to Queens,
And maids and valets waltz behind the scenes;
Wide and more wide thy witching circle spreads,
And turns—if nothing else—at least our heads;
With thee even clumsy cits attempt to bounce,
And cockney’s practise what they can’t pronounce.
Gods! how the glorious theme my strain exalts,
And Rhyme finds partner Rhyme in praise of “Waltz!”
Blest was the time Waltz chose for her début!
The Court, the Regent, like herself were new;
New face for friends, for foes some new rewards;
New ornaments for black-and royal Guards;
New laws to hang the rogues that roared for bread;
New coins (most new) to follow those that fled;
New victories—nor can we prize them less,
Though Jenky wonders at his own success;
New wars, because the old succeed so well,
That most survivors envy those who fell;
New mistresses—no, old—and yet ’tis true,
Though they be old, the thing is something new;
Each new, quite new—(except some ancient tricks),
New white-sticks—gold-sticks—broom-sticks—all new sticks!
With vests or ribands—decked alike in hue,
New troopers strut, new turncoats blush in blue:
So saith the Muse: my——, what say you?
Such was the time when Waltz might best maintain
Her new preferments in this novel reign;
Such was the time, nor ever yet was such;
Hoops are  more, and petticoats not much;
Morals and Minuets, Virtue and her stays,
And tell-tale powder—all have had their days.
The Ball begins—the honours of the house
First duly done by daughter or by spouse,
Some Potentate—or royal or serene—
With Kent’s gay grace, or sapient Gloster’s mien,
Leads forth the ready dame, whose rising flush
Might once have been mistaken for a blush.
From where the garb just leaves the ***** free,
That spot where hearts were once supposed to be;
Round all the confines of the yielded waist,
The strangest hand may wander undisplaced:
The lady’s in return may grasp as much
As princely paunches offer to her touch.
Pleased round the chalky floor how well they trip
One hand reposing on the royal hip!
The other to the shoulder no less royal
Ascending with affection truly loyal!
Thus front to front the partners move or stand,
The foot may rest, but none withdraw the hand;
And all in turn may follow in their rank,
The Earl of—Asterisk—and Lady—Blank;
Sir—Such-a-one—with those of fashion’s host,
For whose blest surnames—vide “Morning Post.”
(Or if for that impartial print too late,
Search Doctors’ Commons six months from my date)—
Thus all and each, in movement swift or slow,
The genial contact gently undergo;
Till some might marvel, with the modest Turk,
If “nothing follows all this palming work?”
True, honest Mirza!—you may trust my rhyme—
Something does follow at a fitter time;
The breast thus publicly resigned to man,
In private may resist him—if it can.

  O ye who loved our Grandmothers of yore,
Fitzpatrick, Sheridan, and many more!
And thou, my Prince! whose sovereign taste and will
It is to love the lovely beldames still!
Thou Ghost of Queensberry! whose judging Sprite
Satan may spare to peep a single night,
Pronounce—if ever in your days of bliss
Asmodeus struck so bright a stroke as this;
To teach the young ideas how to rise,
Flush in the cheek, and languish in the eyes;
Rush to the heart, and lighten through the frame,
With half-told wish, and ill-dissembled flame,
For prurient Nature still will storm the breast—
Who, tempted thus, can answer for the rest?

  But ye—who never felt a single thought
For what our Morals are to be, or ought;
Who wisely wish the charms you view to reap,
Say—would you make those beauties quite so cheap?
Hot from the hands promiscuously applied,
Round the slight waist, or down the glowing side,
Where were the rapture then to clasp the form
From this lewd grasp and lawless contact warm?
At once Love’s most endearing thought resign,
To press the hand so pressed by none but thine;
To gaze upon that eye which never met
Another’s ardent look without regret;
Approach the lip which all, without restraint,
Come near enough—if not to touch—to taint;
If such thou lovest—love her then no more,
Or give—like her—caresses to a score;
Her Mind with these is gone, and with it go
The little left behind it to bestow.

  Voluptuous Waltz! and dare I thus blaspheme?
Thy bard forgot thy praises were his theme.
Terpsichore forgive!—at every Ball
My wife now waltzes—and my daughters shall;
My son—(or stop—’tis needless to inquire—
These little accidents should ne’er transpire;
Some ages hence our genealogic tree
Will wear as green a bough for him as me)—
Waltzing shall rear, to make our name amends
Grandsons for me—in heirs to all his friends.

— The End —