Hymn for Persephone
Hail, Persephone, white-armed queen of death,
ruling seeds in black earth and ghosts from grave.
Your plants and mushrooms chill blood and halt breath.
None can deny you, no matter how brave.
In Arcady you roamed, picking flowers
while you were a maiden, blushing and fair,
’til Hades seized and carried you away.
Mother Demeter foreswore her powers
until you climbed up that steep curving stair
and danced again in the broad light of day.
Yet none quite escape the realm of the dead,
and you found in Hades a kindred heart.
You took his ring, and ate of his bread,
aand tormented dead heroes for your sport.
You put foot-falls in Orpheus’s ear,
invited Theseus to take a seat,
and gave Sisyphus an engineer’s task.
You are the garrote to Hades’ sharp spear:
a slow, choking death, or cankers that eat
so slow, they leave only a husk or a mask.
Frightful Persephone, stay at arm’s reach;
slow-dance with your husband, and not with us.
We long for some lessons you have to teach,
yet hold back from the fullest, hardest press.
Save some of your teachings for other days,
and show us, rather, your gentler side,
that quickens egg and shoot, and prepares the seed.
Guide restless ghosts to rebirth in new clays;
send heroes to walk in our world so wide,
and help us live, ere your call we must heed.