1. Persephone, Falling

    One narcissus among the ordinary beautiful
    flowers, one unlike all the others! She pulled,
    stooped to pull harder—
    when, sprung out of the earth
    on his glittering terrible
    carriage, he claimed his due.
    It is finished. No one heard her.
    No one! She had strayed from the herd.

    (Remember: go straight to school.
    This is important, stop fooling around!
    Don’t answer to strangers. Stick
    with your playmates. Keep your eyes down.)
    This is how easily the pit
    opens. This is how one foot sinks into the ground.

    By Rita Dove

     
  2. Myth

    eating-poetry:

    Long afterward, Oedipus, old and blinded, walked the
    roads. He smelled a familiar smell. It was
    the Sphinx. Oedipus said, “I want to ask one question.
    Why didn’t I recognize my mother?” “You gave the
    wrong answer,” said the Sphinx. “But that was what
    made everything possible,” said Oedipus. “No,” she said.
    “When I asked, What walks on four legs in the morning,
    two at noon, and three in the evening, you answered,
    Man. You didn’t say anything about woman.”
    “When you say Man,” said Oedipus, “you include women
    too. Everyone knows that.” She said, “That’s what
    you think.”

    by Muriel Rukeyser

    A repost, but a good one.
     
  3. 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

     
  4. Sapphics

    So it is: sleep comes not on my eyelids.
    Nor in my eyes, with shaken hair and white
    Aloof pale hands, and lips and breasts of iron,
    So she beholds me.

    And yet though sleep comes not to me, there comes
    A vision from the full smooth brow of sleep,
    The white Aphrodite moving unbounded
    By her own hair.

    In the purple beaks of the doves that draw her,
    Beaks straight without desire, necks bent backward
    Toward Lesbos and the flying feet of Loves
    Weeping behind her.

    She looks not back, she looks not back to where
    The nine crowned muses about Apollo
    Stand like nine Corinthian columns singing
    In clear evening.

    She sees not the Lesbians kissing mouth
    To mouth across lute strings, drunken with singing,
    Nor the white feet of the Oceanides
    Shining and unsandalled.

    Before her go cryings and lamentations
    Of barren women, a thunder of wings,
    While ghosts of outcast Lethean women, lamenting,
    Stiffen the twilight.

    By William Faulkner

     
  5. Siren Song

    This is the one song everyone
    would like to learn: the song
    that is irresistible:

    the song that forces men
    to leap overboard in squadrons
    even though they see beached skulls

    the song nobody knows
    because anyone who had heard it
    is dead, and the others can’t remember.
    Shall I tell you the secret
    and if I do, will you get me
    out of this bird suit?
    I don’t enjoy it here
    squatting on this island
    looking picturesque and mythical
    with these two feathery maniacs,
    I don’t enjoy singing
    this trio, fatal and valuable.

    I will tell the secret to you,
    to you, only to you.
    Come closer. This song

    is a cry for help: Help me!
    Only you, only you can,
    you are unique

    at last. Alas
    it is a boring song
    but it works every time.


    By Margaret Atwood

     
  6. Myth

    Long afterward, Oedipus, old and blinded, walked the
    roads. He smelled a familiar smell. It was
    the Sphinx. Oedipus said, “I want to ask one question.
    Why didn’t I recognize my mother?” “You gave the
    wrong answer,” said the Sphinx. “But that was what
    made everything possible,” said Oedipus. “No,” she said.
    “When I asked, What walks on four legs in the morning,
    two at noon, and three in the evening, you answered,
    Man. You didn’t say anything about woman.”
    “When you say Man,” said Oedipus, “you include women
    too. Everyone knows that.” She said, “That’s what
    you think.”

    by Muriel Rukeyser