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Poem by Madison Julius Cawein


Persephone


O Hades! O false gods! false to yourselves!
O Hades, 'twas thy brother gave her thee
Without a mother's sanction or her knowledge!
He bare her to the horrid gulfs below,
And made her queen, a shadowy queen of shades,
Queen of the fiery flood and mournful realms
Of grating iron and the clank of chains.

 On blossomed plains in far Trinacria
A maiden, the dark cascade of whose hair
Seemed gleaming rays of midnight 'mid the stars,
Rays slowly bright'ning 'neath a mellow moon,
She 'mid the flowers with the Oceanids
Sought Echo's passion, loved Narcissus pale,
'Ghast staring in the mirror of a lake,
Whose smoothness brake his image, flickering seen,
E'en with the fast tears of his dewy eyes.
A shape there rose with iron wain and steeds
'Mid sallow fume of sulphur and pale fires;
Its countenance meager, and its eyes e'en such
As the wild, ghastly sulphur. In its arms,
Its sooty arms, where like to supple steel
The muscles rigid lay, unto its breast,
Such as its arms, it rushed her fragile form
As bosomed bulks of tempest in their joy
With arms of winds drag to their black embrace
A fairy mist of white that flecks the summer
With shadeless wings of gauze, and 'tis no more
Heaved on the rapture of its thundering heart.

 The snowy flowers shuddered and grew still
With withered faces bowed, and on the stream -
Where all the day it was their wont to stand
In silent sisterhood down-gazing at their charms -
Withered and limp and dead laid their fair brows.
Flames hissed aloft like fiery whips of snakes
Blasting and killing all the fragrant sprites
That make the dewy zephyrs their dim haunts.

 O foam-fair daughters of Oceanus!
In vain you seek your mate and chide the flowers
For hiding her 'neath their broad, snowy palms;
Nor is she hidden in that pearly shell,
Which, like a pinky babe cast from the sea,
Moans at your pallid feet washed with white spray.
But, sitting by the tumbling blue of waves,
Mourn to your billows on the foamy sands
The falseness of the god who grasps the storm!



Madison Julius Cawein


Madison Julius Cawein's other poems:
  1. The Wood God
  2. Poe
  3. Dogtown
  4. Love's Calendar
  5. Fall


Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Jean Ingelow Persephone ("She stepped upon Sicilian grass")

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