BACK TO BASICS: GREEK MYTHS 101…
(Adam in Vai, Crete … before the world tourists found out about it.)
PART ONE: THE CRETAN MYTHS IN VERSE.
A synopsis – the Cretan myths in story form:
an interpretation by Adam Donaldson Powell.
Daedalus’ nephew, Talus, was sent to apprentice with him by his (Daedalus’) sister. Talus soon rivalled Daedalus as a craftsman and, after some time, Daedalus pushed Talus off the Acropolis in a fit of jealousy. Daedalus was tried for the murder of his nephew and was found guilty by the court of Areopagus. He then fled to Crete to escape his sentence of death.
King Minos of Crete received Daedalus as his master architect and Daedalus performed many feats of engineering and architecture at the king’s request. Queen Pasiphae, wife of Minos, befriended Daedalus, and soon confided to him that she knew of his secret history – including the fact that three important inventions that Daedalus attributed to himself (the saw, the geometrician’s compass, and the potter’s wheel) were actually inventions of his nephew Talus. Pasiphae then proceeded to blackmail Daedalus into helping her fulfill her fantasy of copulating with a magnificent beast named Asterion. Asterion was a champion bull presented to Minos by the sea god Poseidon. (Poseidon, enraged by Minos’ refusal to sacrifice the prize bull to him, had sought to punish the king by creating a sexual passion within Pasiphae for the animal.) At Pasiphae’s insistence, Daedalus constructed a wooden cow in which the queen could hide herself in order to gratify her passion for the beast. As a result, the queen conceived a son: half-son and half-bull, which came to be known as the Minotaur.
Minos was both outraged and shamed by the existence of the beast and eventually ordered Daedalus to construct an underground labyrinth in which to conceal and imprison it. The Minotaur was situated in the center of the maze of tunnels and corridors, and was fed humans (criminals, pirates, prisoners, the deformed, and the deranged) as its sole form of sustenance.
Shortly after the building of the labyrinth, news came from Athens that Androgeos, Minos’ son, had been ambushed and murdered while on his way to Thebes after winning all events in the Panathenic Games. As a result, Minos waged battle against and defeated Athens, thus delivering an especially cruel punishment: seven of the city’s young men and seven of its young women were to be sacrificed to the Minotaur each year. Theseus, son of King Aegeus of Athens (and offspring of Aegeus’ wife’s liaison with the god Poseidon), volunteered to be amongst those chosen for sacrifice to appease the anger of the common people of Athens, who were rioting over the exemption of royalty and the wealthy from inclusion amongst the victims (chosen by an arranged lottery). Distressed by his son’s imminent departure, King Aegeus requested of Theseus that, if he should escape and attempt to return to Athens safely, he alternate the color of his sail on the returning ship from black to white as a signal. According to Minoan law, all prisoners were to enter Crete unarmed, but should anyone manage to kill the Minotaur and escape alive, the sacrifice of Athenian youths would be ended.
On the return voyage to Crete, Minos attempted to rape the daughter of Alcathous, King of Megara, who had been taken hostage by Minos, and who also was the cousin of Theseus. Theseus intervened and elicited Minos’ anger. After calling each other “bastards”, each proved his own divine paternity – Minos by praying that his divine father (Zeus) send a thunderbolt from the skies, which he did; and Theseus by diving into the sea and recovering a gold ring that Minos had moments before seized from him and hurled into the watery depths. Poseidon, god of the sea and father to Theseus, handed his son the ring and Amphitrite (Poseidon’s consort) presented him with a golden crown which Theseus wore as he emerged from the water. Theseus then replaced the ring on his finger, to Minos’ astonishment.
Before disembarking the ship, Theseus prayed to Apollo and Aphrodite (god and goddess of love) for favor. The gods’ gift to Theseus was that Ariadne, Minos’ daughter, would fall in love with Theseus at first sight – giving him an insider’s advantage over Minos’ rule of terror.
As decreed by the gods, Ariadne soon expressed her love to Theseus who pretended to share her passion. Theseus told her that he would marry her and take her away from Crete were he able to escape the labyrinth and death by the Minotaur. Ariadne then consulted Daedalus and tricked him into telling her how a lost person might find his way out of the labyrinth. Daedalus told her that escape from the maze could be achieved by following a trail of thread fastened to the door at the entrance of the labyrinth. On the morning of his surrender to the Minotaur, Ariadne bestowed upon Theseus a clew of thread and a dagger.
Theseus, armed with thread and dagger, left his companions at the entrance of the maze and walked toward the center. He then killed the Minotaur and returned to the entrance, led by the thread. Ariadne released the prisoners and all fled to a waiting ship arranged for by the love-struck princess. Under cover of nightfall, Theseus and his fellow Athenians bore holes in the hulls of the anchored vessels of the royal fleet to prevent pursuit, and they sailed homeward to Athens. On the way, Theseus threw Ariadne overboard off the coast of the island of Naxos, and continued onward to take the hand of Aegle, daughter of Panopeus, in marriage.
When Minos discovered what had transpired, he imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus (Daedalus’ son by one of Minos’ slave-girls) in the labyrinth, expecting that both would perish in the maze, which would soon flood with the rest of the palace as a result of the approaching tidals waves caused by an immense volcanic eruption on Santorini (then called Atlantis). All at the Royal Palace of Gnossos fled southward toward the summer palace at Festos, and deserted Daedalus and Icarus to die in the labyrinth.
Daedalus used wax and feathers to make wings with which to fly, and father and son escaped the labyrinth. Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too close to the sun as the heat would melt the wax, and not to fly too close to the sea because the sea-spray would weigh down the feathers. They flew northwesterly past the islands of Paros, Delos and Samos, but when they were between the Sporades Islands and the Ionian Coast of Asia Minor, Icarus foolishly flew too high and his waxen wings melted. He plunged headlong into the sea and drowned. Daedalus landed on a nearby island, retrieved his son’s body from the waters and buried him. In memoriam, he named the island “Ikaros”, after his son.
Daedalus then flew on to Sicily and took refuge in the court of Cocalus, the Sicanian king of Camicus. By this time, Mycenaen soldiers had burned and sacked the remains of the Minoan palaces at Gnossos, Festos, Aghia Triada, Malia and Zagros, which had already been all but ruined by the sweeping tidal waves caused by the cataclysmic eruption on Atlantis.
Minos, who had escaped with some thirty men, vowed revenge upon the Mycenaens and set out in search of Daedalus, the one man who could help him maneuver a comeback. Minos traced Daedalus by asking all the rulers of the West how to thread a spiral seashell, knowing that only Daedalus, who had solved the riddle of the labyrinth, could possibly know the answer. Daedalus, when presented with this conundrum by Cocalus, bore a hole in the top of a spiral seashell and harnessed the thread to an ant, which proceeded to weave its way through the shell, coming out through the hole at the other end.
When King Cocalus then returned the threaded seashell to Minos, Minos demanded the surrender of Daedalus. After Cocalus’ refusal to comply, Minos and his son besieged the underprotected city and took one of Cocalus’ daughters captive in ransom for Daedalus. Cocalus then pretended to consent to the relinquishing of Daedalus, and invited Minos to be the guest of honor at a royal feast – Sicilian-style. He also offered the services of his own daughters to assist Minos with the traditional ceremonial bath before the feast. Daedalus, however, had equipped the baths with overhead pipes through which torrents of boiling water were passed, and Minos was scalded to death. Minos’ men, well plied with wine, food and slave-girls, each had his eyes put out and all were set out to sea on a ship with the body of their dead king. On the helm was painted the crude inscription: “Ship of Fools”.
Daedalus, homesick for Athens and despondent over his wayward life, succumbed to severe melancholia and committed suicide on the sacred Isle of Delos.
VERSE: an epic reconstruction of the Cretan myths in four acts.
In the creative tradition
Of cosmic transformation,
The nascence of cognitive evolution
Is precipitated by the yearning of
The soul for individual expression
Through a symbiotic pact between
Science and aspiration.
The juxtaposition of competing
Personal realities within the
Everchanging ethos necessarily evokes
The strategic separation of conscience
And morality within those in pursuit
Of that which makes a legend most.
PROLOGUE 2: CHORUS.
Thus the universe created
A typology of deities
To enforce the laws of love
And nature, unknowing that
Human passion for omnipotence
Would sublimate religion
To the glory of invention.
But, for every inspiration
Of genius there is an
Accompanying consequence of
Ignorance; and so it is that
He who constructs a labyrinth
Must invariably suffer confinement
Within the limits of karmic mortality.
RAGE 1: DAEDALUS.
Quiet rage kindled by the
Foolish boasting of youth
Provokes restless itching palms
To violent fantasy directed at
The tender ivory pedestal of
Flesh and muscle precariously
Supporting the rose-petal cheeks
And fawn-like eyes of Talus.
The graceful movement of these
Floating, detached hands through
Undefined space and time betrays
The choreography of a nightmare
Unfolding in slow motion;
Ending only when the terrified
Scream of the victim is echoed
By that of the sweating dreamer
And consciousness is restored
MURDER AT THE ACROPOLIS.
Under cover of night,
The howling of wild dogs and jackals
Forewarns the final waning of the moon
As oily teardrops anoint the marble temple
With glistening treachery.
And in the columnar shadows lurk
The memories of two drunken men,
Pervading silence and open spaces with
Boisterous song and laughter.
The advent of dawn reveals the tearful
Soliloquy of Daedalus, who has succumbed
To the genius of temptation:
“It’s so easy to take offense
when one is inebriated ….
Suddenly, everything that has
Ever hurt or angered you
Flashes before your eyes in
Vivid cinematic replay,
And before you know it you’re
Struggling for your very life
On the precipice of integrity.
You see, Talus —
I had no alternative but
To do what I did …
The pain is that it was
So bloody easy.”
DAEDALUS 1: ESCAPE FROM ATHENS.
Disguised as an unfortunate beggar,
The accused Daedalus loses himself
In a crowded bazaar while awaiting the
Hour of his escape from Athenian justice.
In his cognizant, scientific mind the
Survival of genius irrefutably supersedes
The fallacy of morality and reason
Adjudicated by social acceptability and custom.
And yet, his self-righteous sense of
Confidence and courage are persistently tempered
By the nagging, remote possibility that
He may, in fact, be wrong.
Rising above the Valley of the Mysteries,
Atop the hill known as “tou tselebe he kephala”,
Stood the impenetrable and resplendent palace
Of the royal court of Minos.
The photographic reflection of the setting sun
Upon the outer walls of gypsum and lime plaster
Gave the massive structure a brilliant golden sheen,
At once conveying divine favor and prosperity.
And as the stalwart stand of conifers secluding
The fortress from seaward view bowed gracefully
In the warm Cretan breeze, the weary Daedalus
Resumed his slow approach to the north gate
With a muddled sense of hope and trepidation.
Gathering dark storm clouds
Over the southern portion
Of the Aegean Sea signal
The rising anger of the almighty
The shroud of fear incited
By this ominous omen stirs
Panic-stricken birds and livestock
Seeking refuge through flight.
Then, with a sudden lash of
Thunder and electricity, the
Entire Cretan sky becomes
Illuminated with the frightening
Apparition of the laughing god —
Raising his trident in vengeful
Feeling like the nigger of the world,
The misogamistic Pasiphae maintains
Self-imposed exile in queenly splendor
Devoid of men and the pain they elicit.
Her god-given lust is neither
Passionate or emotional, for its
Sole motive is womanly revenge
Through bitterness and degradation.
On the western grasslands
Appending the palace at Gnossos,
The magnificent Asterion
Snorts and kicks at
Loosened pasture in defiance
Of captivity and civilization.
Amongst the numerous onlookers
Admiring him from safe distance
Is one designing woman,
Who alone can compromise
His nature-given invincibility
Through deceit and manipulation.
Raising his head from the fodder
Of self-involvement, the princely bull
Inadvertently glances at the
Staring huntress and quickly turns
Away in sympathetic embarrassment for
Human indiscretion and humiliation.
DAEDALUS 2: BLACKMAIL.
Confronted with exposure
And certain ruin,
The distraught Daedalus
Allegiance and reason
To the ruthless web
Of hateful nymphomania.
The firey threats of
The desperate queen are
Reinforced by the sadness
Of her eyes, which
Melt the misogyny of
Her accomplice into
Now joined by the
Mutual exigency for
Challenge and survival,
They endeavor to plot
The seduction of Asterion.
SEDUCTION OF THE BEAST.
Playing on his
Almost homo sapien instincts,
Pasiphae pursues the beast
With malignant love and deception.
Though unstirred by the
Beauty of her dark curls,
Flawless skin and painted eyes,
Is completely transformed
In disposition by
The bovine facade
Of his own illusion.
And somewhere between
Ingenuity and chauvinism,
The priestess and the beast
Each satiated by his own
BIRTH OF THE MINOTAUR.
The priestess Pasiphae lay stretched across the
Stone dais as a prisoner of sacrifice;
Her hands and feet helplessly pinioned by fear
To four-pillar bedposts in surrender to
The fruits of indulgence.
Lightning-like images of horror flash
In vibrant colors against the darkness
Of the night until a momentary calm
Haltingly and mercilessly imbeds upon her
Drunken consciousness one final vision ….
This vision extinguishes all candles
Except for one, and that lone flame
Illuminates the countenance of Adrastea,
The Goddess of Darkness …
From the onslaught of delirium come
Machinations of rape and betrayal in
Rapid succession, spattering the
Whiteness of creation with blood
Of bluish-black and crimson.
The frenzy of violent orgasm overtakes
Her temple, rendering the walls of her
Vagina to tremble as the batterings
Of the wild sea Poseidon rage
Against her malleable shore.
Suddenly, the screams of one thousand
Sirens decry the final exodus of the
Monstrous incubus, and within the
Silence that ensues a new Hell is borne
In the shape of the Minotaur.
RAGE 2: MINOS.
Glaring with disgust and rage
At the repulsive newborn,
The disgraced monarch
Spat and pointed a
Contemptuous finger at
His unfaithful concubine;
Condemning her to a
Sentence of motherhood.
And the attending midwife
Looked away in shame
While the terrified queen
Sobbed in fear and confusion
At the cruel consequence
Of divine possession.
The curious citizens of Gnossos
Looked on with shuddering relief
As ten palace guards dragged
The struggling Minotaur through
The intricate structure of
Interconnecting passages to his
Barren chamber of confinement.
VENGEANCE 1: ATHENS.
Standing amid the smouldering remains
Of defeat and destruction was the
Commanding chief of the Royal Minoan Army.
The mandate he delivered to the dreading
Audience conveyed the barbarous and
Bizarre vengeance of King Minos
For the murder of his son:
“From this day … and each year henceforth,
seven of your young men and seven of
your young women will be sacrificed to
the Beast upon selection by lottery.”
Above the rancorous protests
From the dissenting crowd
Was heard the martyring
Proclamation of Theseus —
In courageous appeasement.
A resounding cheer
Of victory and approval
Roared across the square
As the bewildered king
Stared at his son in
Shock and disbelief.
In the ensuing moments came
The supportive commitment
Of thirteen men and women;
Volunteering in the heroic
Spirit of Athens.
Masking his sorrow
With kingly decorum,
The despondent Aegeus
Grieves the departure
Of his only son
With tacit consternation.
Upon the painful advent
Of final embrace
The swollen eyes of
Both men rain a
Sprinkling of teardrops
In bidding of courage
And divine favor.
Biting his upper lip
In defense from effusion,
The young prince turns and
Embarks the waiting ship
Without once looking back.
THE RAPE OF THE DAUGHTER OF ALCATHOUS.
Purity of white fleshes outward
With the subtlety of wind chimes
Swaying lithely in the seabreeze …
Sublime fragrances of jasmine and
Virginity meld unwillingly
With sweat and fear
Engendered by threat of violation …
The scent of victimization
Only encourages animal passion and
Further increases the value of the prize …
Beauty – inviting – passion —
Creating – revulsion – increasing —
Attraction – begetting – fear —
Maximizing – passion …
Contorted faces and war-drum heartbeats
Distort humanity as minds are
Dismembered by occlusion …
Peace cannot prevail until
A victor is crowned and
Reintegration is impossible until
Silence shreds its hostility.
MIRACLE 1: THUNDERBOLT.
In a concerted attempt at
Proving his divine paternity,
Minos closed his eyes and
Raised his trembling arms
Toward the realm of Zeus
Until the mounting force of
Concentration released a
Deafening bolt of thunder to
Burst forth from the heavens
And puncture the pustule
MIRACLE 2: THE RING.
Tension was keen amongst the spectators
As all anxiously awaited the questionable
Resurgence of Theseus from the aqueous depths.
But doubt soon turned to astonishment as the
Beloved son of Poseiden defiantly resurfaced
Onto the starboard deck sporting a wry smile,
A golden ring and a gilded wreath of lilies
Bequeathed him by the fair mermaid Amphitrite.
THESEUS 1: APPEAL.
Lulled by the gentle
Cradling of the waves
And the soft shimmer of
The early morning moon,
The sleeping ship coasts
Upon the foamy crests
In dreamy quietude.
The insouciant reverie
Is dutifully maintained
By the mesmerizing
Tonalities and rhythms
Of creaking planks
And ocean spray.
And keeping sole watch over
Survival and expectation
Are a lunching rodent
And the insomnious Theseus,
Kneeling in silent supplication
To the celestial guardians
Of love and beauty.
ARIADNE 1: INFATUATION.
Today, Mother Goddess,
I fear that I fell quite foolishly
In love with an extraordinary new
Slave-attendant bearing wine.
No sooner did I take but one sip
Than the resplendent face of Theseus
Captivated both vision and dreams.
I swam in the cool underwater grottos
Reflected in his emerald eyes,
And basked in the dawning borne
Of his sweet parting lips until
The brightness of his celestial smile
Broke my reverie and I found myself
Scampering about on my hands and knees,
Retrieving my fallen cup and
Blotting the runaway wine from
His perfect feet, while stammering:
“I’m terribly sorry ….
I thought you were someone else.”
THESEUS 2: THREAD AND DAGGER.
Armed with clew of thread, dagger and
An invincible strength of purpose,
Theseus of Athens stealthily winds
His way through the maze of dark
Corridors cluttered with hair,
Excrement and mortal bones in search
Of the beast known as the Minotaur.
Verily, the Mother Goddess shakes
Her head in disapproval and shame,
For beasts and the imperfectly-formed
Have a special place amongst the
Beloved of her Kingdom.
DEATH OF THE MINOTAUR.
Writhing and moaning
With human-like expression,
The innocent offspring
Of passion and lust
Succumbs to non-existence
Without knowing why —
Sacrificing his presumptuous
Right-to-life in deference
To the overriding popularity
Of physical beauty
And social convention.
And in his confusion of
Pity, revulsion and respect,
The valiant young Theseus
Replaces the blood-soaked
Dagger into its sheath and
Closes the distended eyelids of
His disabled opponent in combat.
ESCAPE FROM GNOSSOS.
Stealing through secret passageways
Past sleeping palace guards,
Bare-breasted Ariadne leads Theseus
And the thirteen to safety
With feminine will and insight.
Her pride of success is tarnished
By the inexplicably strange feeling
That she is seeing her past and
Intended future for both
The first and last time.
As she glances back briefly
Upon the impenetrable dormant fortress,
A vagabond tear stains the kohl
Outlining her eyes and she quickly
Turns to resume her traitorous mission
Into the betraying clutches of loneliness
Known only to women who bleed for love.
ARIADNE 2: JILTING AT NAXOS.
With the passing
Of a single cloud
Over the persistent sun,
The image of a victim of
Psychological rape is
Eternally engraved upon
The chronicles of history —
As tearing out her hair with
Contorted face and gaping mouth;
And the incessant wailing of
Passionate desperation yields
To rage as the near-drowned
Nymph crawls from sea to land
In a half-hearted attempt
CHANGING OF THE SAILS.
The appearance of the Port of Pireaus
On the horizon transforms mirage into reality
As the vagabond ship rocks steadily between
The waves on the 27th day of summer.
Burning rays of sunlight fuel the fervor
Of moving muscles on bare-backed men
Hoisting ropes and alternating sails
From black to white, thus signalling
Their triumphant return from the
Grasp of death into the bosom of victory.
And at the helm stands the young hero Theseus,
Staring without seeing and smiling with
Non-expression: his concentration is
Distracted by the solitary image of a
Young woman in love, screaming his name
Sudden panic on the island of Atlantis
Is precipitated by intestinal gurgling
Within the volcanic cone of Mount Thira.
The impending cataclysm evokes terror
And fear amongst priests and sybarites alike
As the end of the world becomes self-evident.
In a final gesture of prayer and submission,
The doomed hostages of angry gods and nature
Kneel before images of the Great Mother
With fists to brow while the riotous movement
Of bubbling lava and gases escalates into
A hysterical danse macabre to-the-sea as
The earth is purged of decadent overindulgence.
Father and son fly high above the
Spray of the sea in an attempt
To escape fatidic injustice through
Science and romanticism.
The synchronous flutter of waxen wings
On these daring charlatan-birds denotes
An intentional defiance of nature,
Punishable by death or evolution.
And so it is, with destined irony,
That the triumphant exhilaration at
Conquering the elements is necessarily
Moderated by mourning and sadness
At the realization that life as known
Can never be the same again.
…. And the scribe of the gods
impartially observes for the
annals of history:
“Daedalus looks on with helplessness
and horror as the youth is pulled
into the blue-green depths and
consumed by the jowls of destiny.”
DAEDALUS 3: ELEGY.
Icarus, my son —
In all honesty I guess we were
Always walking on the edge.
Suspended tautly between highs
And lows, we feared mediocrity
More than imbalance.
For us, challenge was but
The means of attaining individuality;
A space unto ourselves and
Forever out of reach of
Those who dreamed but
Never dared to risk.
We soared like eagles and
We fed on desires that
Sting the heart, yet
We neither gave nor received
Beyond our passion for
Excellence through solitude.
And now that I have witnessed
The birth of my conscience,
There remains no other recourse
Than to re-invest myself in
The ongoing saga which is the
Phenomenon of life.
Heretofore, I’d always thought
That phenomenon is emptiness;
But having now lost all
That has been dear to me —
I realize that emptiness
Is a kind of phenomenon.
Leading the procession of
Thirty haggard mercenaries in
Tattered finery was a short,
Dark-complexioned man with
Dirty black curls and a
Glint of twilight and
Magic in his eyes.
The demeanor of this
Broken-down gypsy with
Affectations of pomposity
And courtly grandeur incited
Both laughter and suspicion
Amongst the curious Sicanians.
Yet – his fixed smile and
Piercing gaze betrayed nothing
But charm as he extended his
Palm holding a simple spiral
Seashell, and said:
“I’ll bet YOU can solve this riddle!??”
VENGEANCE 2: SICILY.
King Cocalus was taken by surprise
In the twenty-fourth hour when
Minos and his band of thirty
Burst into the royal bedchamber
Armed with torches, swords and
A dagger positioned against the neck
Of the fair princess of Camicus,
Held in ransom for he who
Solved the riddle.
Looking into his frightened daughter’s eyes
Cocalus knew at once that the
First battle had been lost but
Conceded with a smile as his
Bitter mind was already scheming
At a plan for final victory.
In an expression of growing impatience,
The disapproving gods comment with a sigh:
“Must we be continually aggravated
by these shadows of a man
of stature and consequence,
now diminished into comic parody
by desperation and delusion?
The truth is that no one
really cares about a star
that has lost its shine ..
A king without a kingdom is
either a pirate or a buffoon.”
The slow dripping of water
Upon blistered skin and flesh
Stages the final element of torture
For the deposed king as each
Drop threatens to erode more
Permanently all hope for
Recovery and revenge.
Melodic shrieks of agony
Maintain symphonic balance
Against the rhythmic trickling,
Indicative of the ironic horror
Endemic to nature’s inevitable
Triumph over civilization
Perhaps the greatest severity
Is the cruelty of mortality;
For chronology minimizes
Individual humanity with
Each passing moment.
DAEDALUS 4: LAMENT FOR A DYING KING.
It shatters me to see you
Lying there so helplessly;
Playing the ‘waiting game’
Without judgment or choice.
Fearing life now more than death,
You transcend the impatience of desire
Through constancy of pain and
Resignation to the inevitable.
In a singular gesture of compassion,
Your pale lips force a smile
Which silences the teardrop
Skidding down my face; and
Momentarily I turn away inside myself,
Embarrassed by my own self-indulgence.
You take me by the hand and
Squeeze a bit of your precious life
Into mine, as if to say:
“I know … I know …
(we all live on borrowed time).”
SHIP OF FOOLS.
Guided by the constellations
On a voyage to nowhere,
The shattered wealth of the
Heroic age is now overshadowed
All blood runs cold
On this ship of fools;
And yet, the vibrant calm of
Heavens and sea remains undisturbed
By the cacophonous wails and
Shrieks of agonized men
And impatient birds of prey.
Verily, the hand of Fate
Is severe with those
Who are slow to acquiesce;
For death without release
Is Hades itself.
DAEDALUS 5: EULOGY.
Beatific phantom choirs of deceased souls
Sing blood-curdling hymns of praise
In honor of Daedalus, who has plunged a
Silver dagger into his own heart
With poetic indifference.
The shrill tonalities of their electrifying
Strains split open the Mount of Artemis
With seismic precision, thus allowing
The corpse to be consumed within the
10-foot crevice without indulgence.
As the rapidly approaching darkness expunges
Temporal expression of irrationality,
Gentle warm breezes over the sacred
Isle of Delos cradle existence
Once again to primal order.
Situated on a hill overlooking
The ruined temple at Delos
Lay a mound of earth covered
With herbs and wildflowers.
Anonymity and olive trees
Shield the unmarked grave
From further disturbance
By inquiry over time.
From the beach below one
Can sometimes visualize
The crescent moon posing
As luminous horns of consecration
Hovering above the burial site —
A symbol of both the old religion
And reflected in the perfect
Scheme of constellations is
The haunting warning of an
Ingenious soul that will
“Ariston metron” …. (moderation is best) ….
The legacy of Daedalus
Is a lesson in pathetic empiricism —
The liability to suffer is a concept
Borne through the fallacy of genius.
Whether he existed beyond the realms
Of mythology and imagination is
Irrelevant; through him mankind has
Inherited the irresistible urge for
Pathos through technology.
It has long been decreed by the Fates
That as Atlantis declined, so shall
Crete … and Assyria … and
Babylonia … and Egypt … and
Macedonia … and Rome … and ….
The carnage is reflected incessantly
Through this hall of mirrors that
We call history, for behind every
Great lust for significance lurks
PART TWO: OTHER POEMS INSPIRED BY ANCIENT GREEK RELIGION AND MYTHOLOGY:
Appolonian tears of lamentation
Collect as sanguine dewdrops
Upon the verdant slopes of Olympus.
Nurtured by the glory of the elements,
The resplendent rebirth of Hyakinthos
Is made manifest throughout the four quarters
In carillons of sapphire blossoms.
The petals of these bell towers
Cense the air sublime with
The Spirit of the Great Mother
And the legend of creation.
In memoriam, the fugitive solar discus
Lay forever fixed in the heavens
As a symbol of love made Divine
Behold! For within the Great Rite
Lay the mystery of the chalice;
Swept upwards upon the wings of
Divine love and victory,
We consume the Spirit
And re-unite with the Source.
Verily – I am Rhea,
I am the Minotaur …
I am the Chalice.
THE ARCHETYPAL KOUROS.
Seated before the altar
At the Minoan Palace of Gnossos,
I drink thirstily from
The chalice of Divine Essence.
The intoxication I attain
From the nectar of sacrifice
Tightly binds the
Scrotum of my devotion,
And demands unconditional surrender.
As the relentless frenzy
Of my intoxication
Reaches an orgiastic climax,
I both consume and
Give birth to myself
In generous libation
On the twelfth day of Bacchion,
The god of magical grace and rapture
Is summoned from the sea
By those willing to suffer to learn.
All hearts on Mount Parnassus are inflamed
By the scent of burning ivy and vine
As the nymphs of Nysa imbibe of the
Ecstasy of madness and destruction.
“Come to us, Thyonidas,
Beloved of bacchantes and panthers …
Join us, O nocturnal one,
In our sacred rites.”
The frenzy at the Festival of Thyia
Is soon stilled by the prophetic Great Whispering
And the miracle of wine,
Which herald the coming of Lord Dionysus.
Dripping with libations of honey and bloody flesh,
The sated god smiles,
For life force itself is borne
In the womb of pleasure and pain.
PSYCHE AND PHANTASY.
Psyche and Phantasy play artfully
At suggestion and intrigue;
Their lovemaking weaves miracles
Through the fabric of dreams.
There, in the Valley of Styx,
Endings mute into beginnings
Like swirls of blue-grey smoke
Creeping toward alabaster palaces
In primordial consciousness.
And soon, the fiery ashes of
One zillion charred impulses
Rain heavily upon furrows
Of creativity, cultivating
Retrospect with expectation.
Copyright Adam Donaldson Powell (excerpted from his book “Collected poems and stories”, 2005). Photographs by Adam Donaldson Powell.