poetry

Semele

kingrichard

The following poem is an excerpt from my soon to be finished play “The Fields of Eleusis”

Oh Muses sing your endless song of lust and fatal abandon

Sing of Cadmus dancing mindlessly to this succulent threnody

Giving his seed to Harmonia, who wore the ill-starred brooch on her breast,

The world was given Semele, a beauty to tempt the gods!

It was not long before the ever wandering eyes of Zeus beheld her charms

As she stood upon his altar bathed in the blood of a sacrificial bull

The God-King was struck with love incurable

And he thirsted for her

Parched he set out for this fertile spring

And knew her like the rains know the yearning fallow fields

But she who wore the polos of Olympus, Hera, beloved of thunder maker

She was jealous of her husband’s new lover

And descended from her heavenly perch in the visage of a crone

Befriending Semele and sowing doubt in her love-struck mind

Pregnant with the child of Zeus she now feared he was not who he said

And begged him to grant her a boon worthy of his power

He swore on ever flowing Styx that he would abide

She begged him to reveal his splendor in full

Consumed with sadness and remorse Zeus did abide

And showed her his eternal form in all its terrible glory

And like the endless fire of the sun burns the deserts and the sand

She fell to ashes, consumed by his awful glory

But Zeus would not let the child of their union perish

So he clove his thigh and sewed the babe, not ready to be born, up into it

And after month passed on month the new god, Dionysus, sprung from his father’s wound

Twice born, once from the ashes of his stricken mother

And once again from the flesh of his immortal father

So great a god was Dionysus that the very earth rejoiced by given up

Its intoxicating berries

And the twice-born god made wine for all peoples to revel and celebrate

The union of mighty Zeus and fair Semele

And the child the created

Gift to earth and heir to heaven’s heights!

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