Hymn for Neptune and Salaca
(July 23) [much belated]
Neptune or Poseidon should be familiar to many readers as the god of the sea and the earthshaker and the horse lord. Salaca, or Sulis, is likely to be more unfamiliar. She is the goddess of mineral springs, which are an important part of Italian life even today in the form of bottled water.
Hail, lord of wave, and queen of deep ocean
who form an amicable partnership—
marriage of creation and destruction,
passionate in everlasting courtship.
Early you brought forth all protean life;
fin, tail and foot were your innovations.
You taught your children mutation of form,
schooled them in co-operation and strife,
taught them in cunning and lower emotions—
then flung them to land with flood, tide and storm.
Neptune is king of horse-grace and sea-foam,
Earth-shaker, and sinker of ships and men;
Yet Sulis gave mortals first healing known,
a salt spring bubbling in hidden glen,
whose fountains brought ease to each ache and pain.
Together you drown merchants and pilgrims,
sending some to doom, and others to life.
One closed mortal foods in preserving brine,
the other smashed ships with Ocean’s fulcrums,
claiming countless lives with tidal wave’s knife.
Keep holding hands, you parents of dolphins,
and grandparents of turtle and coral.
Open your home to tuna and bluefins,
while proving that nature is not moral:
eat or be eaten; choose life or get death.
Fall to a lone shark, or hang with your school;
survive injury and insult, or don’t.
Taste the bite of sea-salt on every breath.
Poseidon and Salaca — teach this rule:
those who do not struggle to survive… won’t.