1. Circe’s Power

    I never turned anyone into a pig.
    Some people are pigs;
    I make them Look like pigs.

    I’m sick of your world
    That lets the outside disguise the inside. Your men weren’t bad men;
    Undisciplined life
    Did that to them. As pigs,

    Under the care of
    Me and my ladies,
    they Sweetened right up.

    Then I reversed the spell, showing you my goodness
    As well as my power. I saw
    We could be happy here,
    As men and women are
    When their needs are simple. In the same breath,

    I foresaw your departure,
    Your men with my help braving
    The crying and pounding sea. You think

    A few tears upset me? My friend,
    Every sorceress is
    A pragmatist at heart; nobody sees essence who can’t
    Face limitation. If I wanted only to hold you

    I could hold you prisoner.


    By Louise Glück

     
  2. A Myth of Devotion

    When Hades decided he loved this girl
    he built for her a duplicate of earth,
    everything the same, down to the meadow,
    but with a bed added.

    Everything the same, including sunlight,
    because it would be hard on a young girl
    to go so quickly from bright light to utter darkness

    Gradually, he thought, he’d introduce the night,
    first as the shadows of fluttering leaves.
    Then moon, then stars. Then no moon, no stars.
    Let Persephone get used to it slowly.
    In the end, he thought, she’d find it comforting.

    A replica of earth
    except there was love here.
    Doesn’t everyone want love?

    He waited many years,
    building a world, watching
    Persephone in the meadow.
    Persephone, a smeller, a taster.
    If you have one appetite, he thought,
    you have them all.

    Doesn’t everyone want to feel in the night
    the beloved body, compass, polestar,
    to hear the quiet breathing that says
    I am alive, that means also
    you are alive, because you hear me,
    you are here with me. And when one turns,
    the other turns—

    That’s what he felt, the lord of darkness,
    looking at the world he had
    constructed for Persephone. It never crossed his mind
    that there’d be no more smelling here,
    certainly no more eating.

    Guilt? Terror? The fear of love?
    These things he couldn’t imagine;
    no lover ever imagines them.

    He dreams, he wonders what to call this place.
    First he thinks: The New Hell. Then: The Garden.
    In the end, he decides to name it
    Persephone’s Girlhood.

    A soft light rising above the level meadow,
    behind the bed. He takes her in his arms.
    He wants to say I love you, nothing can hurt you

    but he thinks
    this is a lie, so he says in the end
    you’re dead, nothing can hurt you
    which seems to him
    a more promising beginning, more true.


    By Louise Glück

     
  3. All Hallows

    Even now this landscape is assembling.
    The hills darken. The oxen
    sleep in their blue yoke,
    the fields having been
    picked clean, the sheaves
    bound evenly and piled at the roadside
    among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:

    This is the barrenness
    of harvest or pestilence.
    And the wife leaning out the window
    with her hand extended, as in payment,
    and the seeds
    distinct, gold, calling
    Come here
    Come here, little one

    And the soul creeps out of the tree.

    By Louise Glück