Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Danaë


Danaë








My mother was a fool
to take that flower
picked and bound to die,
with but one seed to fly
from you, a seer's toy,
symbol of a dead hour
lesson of a broken school.

To be mortality's martyr
I became your towered barter,
womb pointed down
a field unfound,
a beeless meadow, I
heard above in the roll and pound
a god who was so much smarter.

On the bridge of night's black river
I wrapped hands and feet in skins
to turn the lightning of his whim,
to hold the spill from the silver krater:
mixed wine of the poet's grief,
bright rain of the god's relief,
seed of your mirrored killer.

By then it was far too late,
as we slept on the god-calmed sea,
my sword-sharp boy curled into me
till mercy washed us dry, too late
to unpick the dying flower
of your trivial collateral fate.





~May 2015





posted for      real toads
The Tuesday Platform


Process Note: A krater  is a large vase which was used to mix wine and water in Ancient Greece.

"In Greek mythology, Danaë was a daughter of King Acrisius of Argos and his wife Queen Eurydice. She was the mother of the hero Perseus by Zeus....Disappointed by his lack of male heirs, Acrisius asked an oracle if this would change. The oracle told him that he would be killed by his daughter's son. She was childless and, meaning to keep her so, he shut her up in a bronze tower or cave. But Zeus came to her in the form of golden rain, that streamed in through the ceiling and down into her womb. Soon after, their child Perseus was born.Unwilling to provoke the wrath of the gods or the Furies by killing his offspring, Acrisius cast Danaë and Perseus into the sea in a wooden chest. The sea was calmed by Poseidon and at the request of Zeus the pair survived." ~wikipedia








Images: Danaë, 1908, by Gustav Klimt
Public domain via wikiart.org
Seeds, copyright 2013, joyannjones

21 comments:

  1. I love these mythological stories.. somehow they have something to tell us even today. One might always wonder if the king ever had a choice.. the only difference was his pain in doing this..

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  2. This was a beautifully haunting piece... these lines struck me the most:

    To be mortality's martyr
    I became your towered barter,

    Loved your choice of words :D its so intense!
    Lots of love
    xoxo

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  3. This is flawless. Really. I simply do not know enough ways to say how good this is.

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  4. "On the bridge of night's black river" sigh

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  5. This is so interesting--I read it first on the phone on my way out to work and did not read the process note--also I'd heard of the myth--but didn't make any actual connection in my brain--so it seemed to me very much a poem of a mother/daughter/ lover-- a poem of escape in a way (which it is) , and I didn't focus on the father figure at all--and honestly, it worked very well . (Ha.) Because it really is about the exercise of a type of dominance or control over someone and their wriggling away from it as best they can, rather as mother of their own, or lover of someone they choose or think they chose (often ending up as both mother and lover and maybe without lover!)== but then I had a little more time and read the process notes--and connected the title, which of course, gives an additional weight and clarity-- boy--talk about back-firing! And it really is so true--that kind of control exercised can end up bringing the fate absolutely feared, and the person who was so dominating ends up being relatively trivial to the big story. (Right now, I'm thinking of Mozart's father, oddly.) But many father figures--(or lovers--Othello--) bring on the tragedy they most fear--only Othello gets to be a star and really--who even knows about Acrisius--compared to Danae-Perseus or Eurydice- that trivial collateral fate line so good-

    I am wondering by the way if it is the same Eurydice--not sure how she would fit--and afraid to check for fear of losing (my trivial) comment-- I love that it is the rain that gives birth to the seed here/the flower--the rain being the seed in a kind of way--and especially love that sword-sharp boy--a very good description of all kinds of boys, and swords.. k.

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    1. No, it isn't the same Eurydice, Karin--I also checked because that *really* would have been a twisty myth. ;_) You nail what I was trying to go for in your remarks about the backfire, and bringing about what you fear--I also wanted to interject the terribly deceptive, literal nature of prophecy, and how the god made men toys so often. Glad you enjoyed --this one did come out of a dream and I had a horrible time tring to work with it till I remembered the myth it referenced--then it seemed too rhyme-y and singsong--ugh-- so towards the end I tried to break it up a little. Thanks so much for your feedback--always helpful.

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  6. ps - love the Klimt and your beautiful pic. k.

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  7. I love this, especially:
    "symbol of a dead hour
    lesson of a broken school."

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  8. That word, 'collateral', seems to connect this story to contemporary wars in which women and children are endangered. Many elements of this tale are of course timeless, universal. An interesting re-telling, full of striking phrases, particularly 'my sword-sharp boy curled into me'.

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  9. Wonderful - and any poem with even a passing nod to Klimt gets my attention.

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  10. "...to late to unpick the dying flower..." Love this!

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  11. I love the middle ground here where its not quite myth or history or dream but the poetry of that place, that verbal homeland. Maybe because I know specks of your story I started reading this as a Mother's Day poem, but gave that up trying to lace the specifics of the myth, then despaired of that and just gave into the waxworks of this passage between generations -- generations of making as much as drafts of a poem. The rhymes work a silver sonorous needle through the weave returning us to recognitions that weren’t visible the first time through – such tidal punch in

    By then it was far too late,
    as we slept on the god-calmed sea,
    my sword-sharp boy curled into me
    till mercy washed us dry, too late
    to unpick the dying flower
    of your trivial collateral fate.

    Is the dream the shower of gold, the poem the ark on the water, the mystery that redresses history? I think so, and thanks for showing how it can be done.

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    1. Thanks, B. I did have the dream over the Mother's Day weekend, so who knows, but it was just a fragment, the first two stanzas basically without the tower, just captivity. I felt it was myth-like, and then I stumbled on the painting and remembered the Danaë story. As I wrote, it really became more about the father, the oracle, and the...extreme effects of his fears, father stuff not being something I've explored before--anyway, yes, it is a twisty one not belonging to any one genre, as perhaps these things we make from myth, history and life are bound to be. I enjoyed your nth retelling of the Oran story--as you say, it is the vehicle that seems best to encompass what you need mused, and you always winkle something new out of that buried oyster in the cloister. As it were. Hey--gotta go with what you got, I say.

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  12. Really, really good, Joy. Gosh I got all tangled up (in a good way) in the rhymes and rhythm of this.... particular form? Or no? Love it.

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  13. Nice. I love the story of Perseus. I fell in with it at an early age with Clash of the Titans. The one from the 80s, not the modern revision. At the time, I thought it was a great movie. It is pretty terrible looking back but it got me interested. The way you tell it is so moving and in a language that fits the myth. Through the glass darkly.

    Was meaning to drop in on you today. You found me pretty quick.

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    1. Thanks, X ( love the avatar.) The 80's one was indeed a classic, in its own cheesy way--Release the Kraken! But it's all about getting your imagination going, with movies sometimes(and everything else, I suppose. ) Re: finding you--had some help from Karin ;_)--good to read you again--missed your voice.

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  14. I really admire the way you have constructed this poem, with the excellent lead in being rounded up in the conclusion.. and all the lovely words in between. I always love your take on mythology.

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  15. The first three lines just stopped me... her opinions are so unmoving. Then read "a seer's toy" and was sucked in all the way to my neck. I delight in myth, and I love what you do with the characters offered by minds so old that they have merged with the words they spoke and wrote.

    Also, I suspect that if she had been given the time to speak to the one who did nothing to save her (or herself) from the fate that struck her, she would have sounded just like that.

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  16. I wonder what this generation, the post-literate (if Brendan's oracle is accurate) will do for the old myths that you and I read as children - and how much richness they will miss, when confronted by a pen like this, that has referent points deep within our memories, but not within theirs.

    It continues to confound me that a few thousand Greeks, perhaps a few hundred core (and later adopted by their Latin cousins), formed the basis of what the western orthodoxy terms literacy. I imagine that an 8th grader from a century ago would look upon my own illiterate (no training in Classics) with the same arch eyebrows I just cast at my sons' generation. Who am I to judge?

    As ever, your pen is lyric, thoughtful, and makes me read and re-read. ~

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  17. Once again you rock the mythical. The name Danae inevitably makes me think of the little girl by that name in the comic strip Non Sequitur. if you don't know her, you'd love her. She hangs out with a dragon (her sister has a horse) and makes up feminist religions while wearing a skull and lightning bolt t-shirt and trying the patience of adults. I don't know why, but she reminds me of someone!

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  18. This truly is greatness. I read it once and exclaimed WHOA. Then I read it again out loud. Thank you for sharing this...sometimes I remark that such quality as this... is free.

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg