Three poems about Apollon

The crow speaks of Apollon

Look at me: My feathers once were white,

Purer than the dove’s, and drenched

With goddess Iris’ colors. Now I am

Black as soot, with only a flicker

Of iridescence, my song changed

To a squawk, my food carrion and

Scraps. Why? Because I told the truth:

Koronis lay with Iskhys when already

Full with Apollon’s child. The Far-Shooter

Sent his sister to punish the guilty,

In spite withholding his own arrows.

He punished the messenger, too,

And changed my colors and my voice.

Yet still I tell the truth, even when

Nobody asks it of me, and in that way,

Unthanked though I may be,

I am Apollon’s faithful servant still.


Kyrene speaks of Apollon

He never asked me to be anything different–

He alone, the god, not my father, mother, suitors,

Not my sisters, not random passers-by–only the god

Was pleased with who and what I was.

Shepherdess, huntress, princess

Who refused to weave and spin

Or bear the cup and flatter visitors

Or stay indoors while wind blew and sun shone

And the river swelled its banks

Between fields of flowers.

With one end of my spear

I nudged the sheep along,

And with the other

I drove off lions, wolves, wild dogs,

Yes, and two-legged thieves,

Men, and the crows and eagles

Who can carry off a new-born lamb.

He came to me in the wild, away

From the stifling palace halls,

Where I stood in a coarse tunic,

My hair unbound, leaning on my spear,

And shone into my darkness

While the sheep grazed in peace,

Untroubled by theophany.

Proudly I lay in Apollon’s arms,

Proudly I bore his son, of whom

I am also proud: My Aristaios,

Hunter, shepherd, and friend of bees.

To me the bright god was as sweet

As the honeycomb in my child’s hands.


The votary speaks of Apollon

He is a distant god, and my instinct

is to keep my distance from him.

Too close an approach to the sun

And you’ll be blinded, then burnt

To nothing. His love is a laser,

A concentration too fierce to bear.

Yet he allures, playing and singing

So that the Muses dance, and mortal

Creativity stirs to the rhythm

Of their pounding feet. Yet he allures,

Golden and flawless, wiser than

His youthful looks, not only a poet,

But a prophet and philosopher, too.

I stand aside, even as I mean

To draw closer to him, and admire

Others’ devotion even as I fear his regard.


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