Inspired by a statue I found lying in long grass on the clifftop of a Greek Island.
From the rock-ribbed kingdom deep below our world,
breathless stone, enduring and preserving time,
drawn whence whispering voices court Persephone
to the open precincts where our chant is hurled
round the sanctuary and out across the brine.
Sculpted to a girl, elegantly arrayed:
votive handmaid, on Apollo's holy ground.
Deep below, a pale featureless block to haunt;
now red-lipped and radiant in light's arcade,
where the flowers of Kore's joy abound.
Once Apollo offered loveliness his lyre,
hopeful of her promise; now this seer-priestess
lays upon you, statue, tribute of my craft:
Song which lights the future, leaping words of fire,
hallowed hands which feel, and understanding, bless.
Many seasons here, shall you at peace abide -
harmonious haven, though the tribes make war;
hear the laughter, priest's intonement, canticles,
see the rhythmic rituals and distant tide;
'till at last, slaughterous barbarians pour,
cast you down and out beyond our city walls
girdle of this high unvanquishable place.
Broken out from sanctuary's curving arms,
there, where sky-bright cliff to wine-dark water falls
leaps from heaven's heat to cooler liquid's grace,
to Uranus will you turn a marble face.
Look! a girl, one far-seen summer day will stand
at your feet, recumbent in the wild grass;
know not who you are, gaze on the faded stone.
She'll not tell her find, only with gentle hand
touch, and bid human farewell before you pass,
solvent, integrating with the mother earth
loosing to the wind your memory of fame:
Sky-engendered purity and cult divine
soon absolved beneath the blue-height's lofty mirth,
Gaia takes the artist's form, the statue's name.
Pent Persephone, this maiden-stone reclaim.
Ruth Asch is a poet in rare moments when tranquility and inspiration co-incide. She is also the mother of four and sometimes a teacher. Her first book of poems 'Reflections' was published in 2009, and poems since in many journals on and off line such as Inkspill, Meditteranean Poetry, The Bamboo Hut, Poetry Repairs, Poetry Atlas and The Literary Yard.
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