(04 October 1943 / Germany)

Bkiii:Xi Remember The Danaids

Mercury (since, taught by you, his master,
Amphion could move the stones, with his singing),
and you, tortoise shell, clever at making your
seven strings echo,

you, who were neither eloquent nor lovely,
but welcomed, now, by rich tables and temples,
play melodies to which Lyde might apply
a reluctant ear,

who gambols friskily, like a three year old
filly, over the widening plain, fears being
touched, a stranger to marriage, who’s not yet ripe
for a forceful mate.

You’ve the power to lead tigers and forests as
attendants, and hold back the swift-running streams:
Cerberus, the frightful doorkeeper of Hell,
yielded to your charms,

though a hundred snakes guarded his fearful head,
and a hideous breath flowed out of his mouth
and poisoned venom was frothing around
his triple-tongued jaws.

Even Ixion and Tityos smiled, with
unwilling faces, and, for a little while,
the urns were dry, as your sweet song delighted
Danaus’ daughters.

Lyde should listen to those girls’ wickedness
and their punishment, it’s well known: their wine jars
empty, water vanishing through the bottom:
that fate long-delayed


that still waits for wrongdoers down in Orcus.
Impious (what worse could they have committed?)
impious, they had the power to destroy their
lovers with cruel steel.

Hypermnestra alone of the many was
worthy of marriage, splendidly deceiving
her lying father, a girl rendered noble
for ages to come,

‘Up, up,’ she cried to her young husband, ‘lest sleep,
that lasts forever, comes, to you, from a source
you wouldn’t expect: escape from my father,
my wicked sisters,

ah, they’re like lionesses who each has seized
a young bullock, and tears at it: I, gentler
than them, will never strike you, or hold you
under lock and key.

Let my father weigh me down with cruel chains,
because in mercy I spared my wretched man:
let him banish me in a ship to the far
Numidian lands.

Go, wherever your feet and the winds take you,
while Venus, and Night, both favour you: luck be
with you: and carve an epitaph on my tomb,
in fond memory.

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Comments (2)

I Love it. Your best metre from start till end. And I would love to look into your eyes. They must reflect the love, strength and wisdom ithat is within your heart. Because your poetry sure does. Thank you.
A very charming poem and again, it moved me at the end.