December 29th, 2010


(no subject)

How he returned

Orpheus walked awhile alone in Hell,
sunless and songless. Then came to a stream
whose surface spangled. Sometimes, in a dream,
puddles have colours like that. Asphodel

Grew there and lilies. If you bent and drank
you would forget and wander a blank soul
with no identity. But plunge in whole
as he did, and gulped water as he sank,

and you will be reborn. And so he was
over and over. Always poetry
his calling, so that when all poets die
they have a moment's certainty because

Orpheus' life and death end in this choice
to be reborn in all true poet's voice.

(no subject)


Apollo joined the muses. Seized the head
which went on singing and pulled it ashore.
He'd brought his sister's shield, the one that bore
Medusa's face that could still blast, though dead,

living things into stone. Apollo froze
Orpheus' song in mid-air. Changed the notes
that hung suspended into crystal motes,
that mingled with the sweet smoke that arose

from the dead poet's pyre. His harp as well
the muses burned. The ashes in the air
forever hanging – Orpheus' dust is there
whenever notes of music rise and swell

in every singer's or composer's heart.
He chastens, purifies, transforms their art.