Poem #46: Persephone, Falling by Rita Dove

artwork credit

In Greek Mythology, Persephone is the daughter of Zeus (the head of all gods) and Demeter (the harvest/earth goddess).   Persephone was a beautiful child and many gods asked for her hand in marriage.  All were unsuccessful.  Hades (god of the underworld) on a trip above ground, saw Persephone and subsequently kidnapped her.  Demeter was distraught, understandably and she stopped tending the earth.  Well, people and animals began to starve; a great famine descended on the earth.

Zeus, stressed out by all the prayers coming from earth and by Demeter’s grief, negotiated for the release of Persephone. Hades refused and Zeus cursed the “marriage” between Hades and Persephone.  It’s myth, so no ordinary curse would do; the curse works as long as Persephone does not eat any food from the underworld.  Hades, subsequently releases Persephone but after he has tricked her into eating a pomegranate.  It had to be a fruit!  Demeter is overjoyed when she is reunited with her daughter.  But because of the pomegranate, Persephone has to spend half of the year with Hades.  The beginning of Spring marks the return of Persephone, Demeter is happy and the harvest begins.  Persephone leaves at the end of Spring and the slow chilling, winter, begins.

Such a long intro to this week’s poem, Persephone, Falling.  I’ve featured the work of  Rita Dove before.  I love  her stuff.  See how she connects the kidnapping of Persephone to modern parental advice. Enjoy!

Persephone, Falling

One narcissus among the ordinary beautiful
flowers, one unlike all the others! She pulled,
stooped to pull harder—
when, sprung out of the earth
on his glittering terrible
carriage, he claimed his due.
It is finished. No one heard her.
No one! She had strayed from the herd.

(Remember: go straight to school.
This is important, stop fooling around!
Don’t answer to strangers. Stick
with your playmates. Keep your eyes down.)
This is how easily the pit
opens. This is how one foot sinks into the ground.

– by Rita Rove

Source: Poets.Org

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10 comments

    • I recommend Dove’s work. She includes a lot of mythology and classical themes in her work. Her poems are very accessible and easy to read.

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  1. loved the poem you posted here, here’s one from one of my favourite poets.

    DARK GRECIAN

    Down the wide shadow-streets of the city,
    By the white marble steps
    Where the quiet soft-robed people
    Crowd to the glamour of the music,
    Deep between the pallid shadows of the houses,
    And the white fantasy of the moonlight
    Among the columns;
    Through the glazed signature of the mists
    Across the great dome,
    Sped the lithe god, the tall Grecian youth,
    Dark of limb, ans fleet,
    With the ebony glitter of light in his hair,
    And his full, lustrous eyes
    Dim with unbidden searching.

    Lawrence Durrell.

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    • Thanks for posting the poem. I love it. It’s both a homage to the city and description of the longing search of the god. Makes me wish I lived in that city and that the god was coming to me :).

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  2. I have learn’t so much here apart from reading the poem. And I admire the way you give credits and states the sources of your information.

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    • Thanks, Geosi. I’m liking including images and their sources a lot these days. I found the artwork on flickr. Check the site out when you have the time.

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