The Second Lamentation of Demeter ~ (Poetry and Myth)

Narcissus, 1912 by John William Waterhouse

Narcissus, 1912 by John William Waterhouse

Persephone’s abduction by Hades is swift, violent and over so quickly that no one hears her scream except for Hecate, a goddess who helps Demeter find out where she has gone. Could there be anything worse for a mother than to lose a child? Demeter’s grief is profound. This is the Second Lamentation of Demeter.

The Rape of Proserpine, Hans Von Aachen, 1587

The Abduction of Persephone, Hans Von Aachen, 1587

To hear me read this poem, please click on the link below and wait a few seconds for it to begin.

 

 

 

The Second Lamentation of Demeter

The earth groaned, then opened briefly.
That’s all it took.

He appeared out of nowhere
Like a wild flume of fire,

The flickering golden chariot with
Four black stallions at full gallop.

He sprang upon her so quickly
That when the earth closed back

Upon itself like a wound healed over,
All that was left was a circlet of flowers

That she and the daughters of Oceanus
Had been stringing together. Irises, roses,

Violets, hyacinths, and the faded blossoms
Of sweet narcissus plucked by her hand.

The scar in the earth and grasses torn apart
Were all that told the story.

I always knew he watched her…
I sensed when he was around.

Clouds gathered overhead,
Shadows clothing him in darkness,

Hades,
To whom sunlight is a stranger.

My sweet Persephone is gone now,
Gone with him.

O, horror…
My sweet child is his.

circlet of flowers 2

Persephone’s abduction is well represented in art. It is my personal opinion that one need look no further than the magnificent sculpture done by Bernini in 1622. The details of the hands and arms as well as the force and resistance between their two bodies is powerful. Persephone’s tear stained cheek tells us more than any words can.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The Rape of Proserpina, 1622, Galleria Borghese in Rome

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The Abduction of Persephone, 1622, Galleria Borghese in Rome

(detail)

(detail)

(detail)

(detail)

15 thoughts on “The Second Lamentation of Demeter ~ (Poetry and Myth)

  1. PS: I cannot even imagine what losing a child must be like. I did not mean to be insensitive to the subject. It is just that I am always taken-in by the words we use to describe something. To convey meaning we clothes the subject in words…

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  2. I like it !
    I should add that in Italian the title of Bernini’s work ‘Il ratto di Persefone’ does not mean ‘the rape’ but ‘the abduction’, or ‘forced abduction’ – (today we would maybe say ‘hijack’, what an ugly word ) -.
    ‘Ratto’ does not have a sexual connotation. That happens later of course and there is an Italian term for it. I do not know why the many titles in art that include the word ‘il ratto di…’ are always rendered by ‘the rape of…’ in English, it bugs me no end…

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    • How very interesting. I’ll go change the word because I don’t like it either. I don’t speak Italian (I wish I did!), so I had no idea. I agree this statue is showing the actual abduction and shows it so wonderfully. I was in Rome last year for the first time, but didn’t get to see it because of time limitations. Amazing that he sculpted it when he was only around 23, isn’t it? Thanks, Vera.

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      • Many young artist in those teeming times produced masterpieces at an early age. After all, most artists began their apprenticeship at 12 or 13 in the shops of affirmed painters and sculptors where they did not ‘take lessons’ but worked at the lesser portions of whatever the master was producing.

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  3. Wonderful! The photographs complement the poem so well. You have introduced me to the Bernini statue; now I NEED to find out about him! 🙂 Thank you!

    Sometimes I’m quite challenged technologically- Saw the FB share button only now. May I use it to share your work on FB?

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  4. Love the ekphrastic connection to the paintings and the sculptures, and your poem’s perspective, Demeter. Perfect poem for this season! The good news is that Persephone will return in the Spring and her mama’s grief will be temporarily lifted.

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    • Thanks for commenting on the poem. Ive been exploring parental loss recently because of several real cases with people I know who have lost their children. Yes, the art connection is fun to explore. The Bernini is simply dazzling. Best wishes, Mary

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