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Thank you for reading, Lyssa. We will get to meet this 'mad' poet Meleager pretty soon. There are a total of ten Parts to this poem. Thanks again for reading and leaving me your thoughts. I really appreciate it!
Two eighteen-year-old boys find the love of their life; one with a girl, and the other with a sexy poet. Come explore the vibrantly pulsing world of the ancient Greeks, their lives, their customs and their divinities. Fun, adventure and a little gender-funk will reward you along the way!
Part I. The Kempt Kathros Hymen and Myiscus strolled through the street, Aglow, calmly with that one sensation Achieved by what a long afternoon’s bath Instills into a person’s wellbeing. Their minds at peace, they might move through the noise Without really being a part of it. Free from the mundane trade and its bustle, They could enjoy the people on parade. City Agoras were almost always packed In the midafternoons, and this one was No different, as users rushed all about. On this day, half-old ladies browsed for new Things to chitchat with other half-old bags. Their laughs and flying hands sailed on the air Like so many doves in congregation; Cooing from stall to stall, but buying not. Sometimes hands would creep from pendulous veils – The kind only worn by the long-married – Extending a touch to a bolt of cloth Vendors might extoll as superior. Between, in front, and all ‘round the adults, Spirited little boys moved like sparrows Snatching booty from slow-witted pigeons. At waist level, their heads – some dark; some fair – Played unintelligible games of chance: Weaving in; weaving out, with back-glances To spy places they’ve been for pursuers, Only to screech delight when they found one. For then, one would two, three or four become Scurrying about in chaotic play. Also, there were stalls offering flowers, For this was the main route a worshiper Would take to get to the Acropolis. Grapevine and delicate dill were woven Together as garlands of godly gifts. As offerings to those sacred on high, They hung from cedar poles sellers hefted Moving among the crowd and crying loud. Other votives swagged beams of grounded stalls, Twining myrtle, rosebuds and violets Into hefty chains of devotionals. Pilgrims could match blossom to deity, Choosing the right flower to help their quest: The thorned bud to beseech love someone’s way; The pale pansy, a frank apology For one’s blundering through a transgression. Likewise to buy, incense, oil and honey Sweeten might the gods’ most desired favor, For gods like men can most appreciate Contrition laced with tears and subornment. The bright day shone down on the bright two lads, Smiling at each other in observing The comings and goings of their own times. Myiscus was the taller of the two. His eyes were large and rich, and in one look Could take more from people than was offered; See a bit of what they wanted to hide. Many told the boy of his dark beauty, But Myiscus did not see it himself. He thought Hymenaios the more handsome, For daylight loved to play with his friend’s hair, Which was more like itself – an auburn-blond. So too Hymen’s brows and lashes were bright And sparkled when he blinked out in the day. Mirrors of his soul they were like, and blue. They and the sandy freckles strewing his arms Bespoke him a true son of Helios; Beneath his father was he happiest. Both young men had just turned eighteen years old And were, and still stayed, each other’s best friend, First playing the games that little boys do, Then growing up, into the attentions Of the men of Athens who would teach them, And they loving every minute of it. Myiscus, whose deep-hued and free glances, Flashed smiles not weened upon sweet innocence – While for Hymen, his face not apple pure – Moving with the assurance of a god Caused scowls to meet them from every dog’s boy, And could draw wistful sighs from all the men. “Did you see that!” the taller one inquired, Nudging his buddy to peer through the crowd. Hymen looked where guided. “No, Myiscus—” “That rascal boy took a bite of apple, ‘Fore putting it back in that lady’s pile.” Hymen laughed, seeing what his friend had meant. “Some maid,” he mused, “will get surprised at home.” Myiscus watched Hymen’s face in profile, First seeing the gracile lips form a grin Before cracking a good-natured chuckle. “Someone,” the redhead said, “should give that kid A good, old-fashioned round of spanking, huh?” Myiscus darkly laughed. “Oh, in that case, “I think I know just the guy who’ll do it.” To Hymen’s confused pout, he continued, “That randy Meleager would be first To form a line of needed volunteers.” “Well…” The sun-kissed boy laughed, squeezing his friend. “You’d know about that man’s well-used ‘cudgel,’ Having many times been servant to it.” For that, Myiscus gave his pal a punch, Though it was pulled and merely aimed squarely For the top of his companion’s shoulder. Hymen reacted with more laughter and Drew up his arms, plus a single knee, for Needless defense from his friend’s fake fury. But as the two boys settled to quiet, And resumed their slow homeward migration, Hymenaios came to an abrupt stop. Myiscus, too busy chirping, just moved Along the crowded pathway up ahead. It took him a moment to see his friend Was lacking from his side, and looked about. Hymen stood statue-still, staring into A market booth of the most usual kind. Though he puzzled what the interest could be, Myiscus retread his way back among The ever-squawking flocks of crumb shoppers. His neck craned to see what had snared his friend’s So-clearly rapped interest at the moment. Rejoined once more, Myiscus thought to speak, For all he saw was the commotion of The cooing and clawing of a bright bolt Of what the merchant said was pure purple From the far shores of rich, exotic Tyre. Then Hymen slapped his arm, for his friend was Looking into the completely wrong stall. Myiscus had his thoughts interrupted, Witnessing his pal’s hand move urgently Up to the center of Myiscus’ chest “She’s the loveliest girl I’ve ever seen….” Hymen’s dreamy tone made Myiscus stare, But at what, he was still not quite so sure. He saw a typical flower seller With a hefty auntie pushing in front. It appeared like an ordinary scene, And then, as when the curtains of a shrine Are drawn back to reveal the sacred form, Her bulk stepped aside, and Myiscus saw A lovely young woman shopping garlands. Hymen by her appeared transfixed; his eyes Staring blankly; his hands falling listless Drooped down to wait uselessly by his sides; And the young man’s grinning faded to naught. Myiscus returned to the girl causing This stymieing effect upon his friend. The graceful sweep of the clothing she wore Came up to rest on her head in white folds Caressing her great chestnut-colored locks. He watched her delicate fingers at work Around a wreath, picking one lucky rose To invite surrender of its sweet scent. “Myiscus, look. Have you ever seen such – Seen such a beautiful girl in your life? If prone I was to swearing, then I’d say She must descend to us from among gods – Perhaps on a holy errand for them – For our Agora merchandise is base When next to the tribute of her beauty.” The smile of Hymenaios then bloomed large As it shone warmly on his companion, Adding, “Surely she can’t be one of us.” Myiscus, for his part, had to swallow The confusion in his gullet, for this Turn of sudden affairs was uncalled for. He tried to laugh it off. “Already, friend…? Is your heart so fickle and quick to change, For only an hour ago at Gym You cried ‘Oh, Alexis, beautiful boy! You’re too painful to see but not be near'”— Myiscus swooned, imitating his chum— “’Not to rest in your arms all through the night Is penance more than my life is now worth. Oh, Alexis; my Alexis!’ you said.” Back to the newfound girl, Myiscus looked, Asking softly, “So, Hymen, what has changed…?” Sunlight playing in his hair, his blue eyes As welkin as the azure sky, he said, “But she’s not like the rooster-boys we love, Strutting tall, in their god-given beauty, Melting all hearts in fear of their confidence. No, no. This girl is like a star-born pearl, Who descending from the phoenix tears must Be caught by human hands to keep her from Contact with the damning soil of the world. Rough-heart boys will always save each other, Though shallow in life and cruel to the faults Of all ‘cept the ones they can’t see in themselves. But gems like this girl must be admired And protected from the damning faults of men.” How astounded was Myiscus, for here The truth of it was laid bare in his friend’s Sunny, tender but pain-filled countenance. His truest friend was in love with this girl. A moment of desolation found him, For though he never cared romantically, To Myiscus, Hymen was his best love; The one to whom he could say anything Without dread of scorn or loss of favor. But now, he could see the end of that. The pit of his stomach hurt, but he joked, “So, she can’t be one of us, you think, huh…?” Hymen, in a flash of youthful deftness, Moved to stand before his pal with hands Draped loosely on Myiscus’ shoulders. “What is it you mean, my friend; you know her?” After a teasing moment of silence, Myiscus revealed, “She’s my sister’s friend.” Hymen’s eyebrows evoked his disbelief. “No, no, it’ true,” Myiscus asserted. “She’s the daughter of Stratos, the rich one Who’s the merchant of fine wine to The State. She and my sister study together….” Myiscus stopped, for the head of his mate Lolled on Hymen’s arm and appeared quite pained. “If you know her,” Hymenaios whispered, “Then to me, reveal but a single thing—” Myiscus nodded, feeling quite concerned. “Tell you what?” he asked. “Her name,” Hymen said. The darker of the two replied simply: “It’s Kathros, meaning the ‘one who is pure.’” Hymenaios, much moved in love before, Loosened his hold on his buddy and stood – Watching again the girl peruse the stall – To see his love ennobled with a name. “My sweet, perfect Kathros – I should have known What the gods designed to have you be called.” Myiscus cleared his throat, shaking his pal. “But dear Hymen, you better know right now This girl’s father is so strict, she’s never Allowed to see us men. The only time She’s permitted to go out in public Is on her usual Thursday votive. So today it must be she’ll buy a wreath And offer it to Artemis – you know – Praying for a rich husband like daddy.” He winked and gave Hymen a little nudge. But when the boy didn’t respond in kind, Myiscus thought he’d quickly add, “Her maid, The selfsame one we spy before us here, Never leaves her alone for a second, Be it any time of the day or night.” This crushing blow he’d whispered in his ear Knowing it’d hurt, but the truth always does. For his part, Hymen watched the maid and girl For whom he had so suddenly fallen Pay for a wreath of pink poppies enlaced As strands about tied-boughs of evergreen. The shrewd lad manning the flower business – No doubt filling in for some gone adult – Even dared to bite the coin that fed him. Satisfied, he bowed out of their way and Allowed the two women to leave the stall. Hymen and Myiscus watched them ascend The crowded streets, heading for the temples. “Near her, I simply wish to be a while; With her, I merely want to speak awhile….” Myiscus again saw his friend’s features Be overwrought to the point of sorrow. Then his auburn chum said with quick shrugging, “I’m not sure what’s happened to me either, But what is there I can do about it? For I only wish to be by her side. Myiscus, help me. I’m serious, I’m…. “I am truly in love, love beyond bounds.” Hymen, whom he loved, was begging for help, But Myiscus had no ready ideas. He thus sputtered, “It’s getting a bit late. I should go home so they don’t start to fret.” With that, he tried to go, but Hymen’s look Made him hesitate a moment longer. Though he wished to soothe the sadness away, He found he lacked the knowledge to do it. Myiscus succumbed to the come time when An awkward boy wants to comfort his friend, And wash mis’ry from the face before him, But merely stands there as the moment goes. Turning then, he walked, watching the cobbles Pass beneath his feet as he headed home. All of a sudden, he recalled something, Rotating to walk backwards a few steps, Calling out, “We’re still on for tonight, right?” Hymen, awoken from his reverie, Hastened to assure his friend. “Yes, of course. I’ll be at your house by the strike of eight.” His tone changed, yelling: “Watch where you’re going!” But it was too late. He saw Myiscus Stumble backwards over a vendor’s crate. Hymen laughed as the angry peddler then Began to chase his klutzish companion. Once the commotion found its conclusion, Hymen’s passing glance lingered on the stall Where he’d first discovered his sweet Kathros. Going in, he bought the garland and rose – Though still tight within its protective bud – His beloved girl had sanctioned with a kiss. Then straight home he went, and into the court. There he bent down before his household shrine. Below its miniature pediment, Two Corinthian columns glowed red paint. Between these were a pair of paneled doors Resembling an ordinary cupboard’s. Hymen lit an amber chunk of incense, And its strongly divine fumes filled the house. With reverential hands, he then began The opening of the doors, and revealed The wooden statue of Aphrodite, Her flesh gracefully hued in ivory. Behind the love goddess, on the shrine’s walls, Blue skies were alive with white doves in flight, Their beaks holding ribbons and gauzy clothes For their demure mistress to array her Once she’d stepped from her private bath – the sea. Hymen untied the swag and strung it there, Secured by the columns on either end. Kneeling, he saw something unprepared for. The rose of Kathros had opened and bloomed. The boy clasped his hands and quietly prayed: “Assist me, Goddess, when I woo her heart to me; Show her a greater love than mine, she’ll never see.”  Agora is Greek for town market, or the central plaza of a community _
Jubilant Zion, and bloodthirsty Baal,
Carved fetish and rune, darkly made sublime,
The marble-gods' pomp, the Grail's shine withal
Yellowed now in the long autumn of time.
Hot though, kisses release me naked, exact,
Rhythmic God taking life and death's direction,
Roaring around me like a white cataract,
Wresting me to the urge of resurrection.
I felt a prophet made to rot and burn,
I quivered on a cross of the modern,
I was forlorn in every agony.
Though I was bound to all cycles of death,
I've overawed such demise with my breath,
And stroll now in resplendent melody.
If I pluck from the air a question old,
I'm sure that many will know what I mean,
For universally in this state bold,
One's love in another's is easily seen.
So shall I write how beautiful you are? –
How your eyes sparkle with wit and pleasure;
How your face is that of an angel's boudoir
Where my happy thoughts constantly seek leisure.
Shall I say what it is like to take your hand? –
To feel the firmness, and reciprocation,
As you hold me back from your firebrand,
But pull mine closer, for some compensation.
Back and forth, there may be some gentle tussle,
But it's always good to stretch Love's muscle.
. Sonnet No. 109 If I pluck from the air a question old, I'm sure that many will know what I mean, For universally in this state bold, One's love in another's is easily seen. So shall I write how beautiful you are? – How your eyes sparkle with wit and pleasure; How your face is that of an angel's boudoir Where my happy thoughts constantly seek leisure. Shall I say what it is like to take your hand? – To feel the firmness, and reciprocation, As you hold me back from your firebrand, But pull mine closer, for some compensation. Back and forth, there may be some gentle tussle, But it's always good to stretch Love's muscle. Sonnet No. 110 To walk Rue Cler, with you my bright sweetheart, Is a sweet dream of Paris, and one day We'll view its produce gathered in outlay With hearts effervescent and sparkling smart. And later my hand will play your cap's part, Having coffee in a court hidden away – Over-watched by the bedchamber where we stay, And to it, step by step, every inch we'll chart. Under linens as white as sheets of snow, All our sense of isolation will melt, As I kneel there to kiss the tranquil glow Off your soft lips so masterfully felt, And mutually we will lock on so To the music which that hammering dealt.  Translation of De marcher rue Cler, à toi ma douce, Sonnet no 100 above. _
Thank you, Molly. It's good you take all the time you need. I truly appreciate that. I suppose No. 107 is quite direct and something most if not all of us can relate to. But with No. 108, I'm paying tribute to a very special poem in my life. I still have the handout Mrs. Kennedy gave us in 9th grade lit class. I could read Shakespeare's W.H. Sonnets No. 116, and feel its power, but what exactly it was saying was beyond me. What was perfectly clear -- and perhaps why I kept the handout -- was that Billy boy was saying he loved a guy. He himself is saying there's no debate about that Anyway, my Tony Sonnets No. 108 is me tackling head on my awe of this poem, which I only figured out once I bought a commentary explaining most of the (somewhat sexy) terms in the Sonnet. Here it is for reference. Muah Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: Oh, no. It is an ever-fixed mark, That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved. _
My KidMy kid screeched in the throes of midnightAnd awakened hot and full of fright.Would you would crave my blood, May,Pounce my cleft heart to take his pain away.For death stalked in its hyena peltWhere lank silverbacks on moonbeams knelt.But the earth, so chaste in its flowersSings spring in its orbital bowers.And the kind winds of May come to kiss when I bidA fragrant envoy from God, my kid.Else Lasker-Schüler
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@MikiesboyOh, Else was very accomplished visual artist as well. She mainly did illustrations for her poems, but they are always striking and original.
This translation is wonderful and brings all her incredible pictures and creative language perfectly in the English language. Magnificent!
In a lot of her poems and some of her plays gay characters find a home and gay love gets a wonderful voice.
I am so happy, for your translations. Because I would know none else to trust, to get her so well and have this awesome understanding of her mind and pictorially language. Your translations of her poems are mesmerizing! Muha
Since I am very involved with Else for some reason - as you know probably better than anyone else - allow me this:
This year would be Else`s 150th birthday and I read yesterday in the news, that they will bring her play on stage in her home town Wuppertal "Ich und Ich" (I and I), which was the last play she wrote. It was long called to be not playable. But of course it is.
She wrote some more plays and novellas, is one of the most famous German poetesses and a winner of the Kleist-Preis (1932). Her conversation through letters with Franz Marc lead to the creation of the "Blauer Reiter" which held some of the most important expressionist art in Germany.
She fought for gay rights and the abolition of § 175, even went to Russia to get a dear friend and fellow poet Senna Hoy out of prison.
@LyssaThank you for putting down here some of the amazing information you are gathering. In the last few days I have read two descriptions of the poet's "cafe life." Before WWI she almost held court daily in a certain Berlin coffee house, and the best and brightest -- many of them Gay, naturally -- flocked to her. But the war drained these beautiful talents away, and a second description has her sitting almost alone day by day waiting for the chance encounter of a friend.
That her love for many of these Gay couples became immortalized in her verse and prose is an amazing gift to the future, and yes, the future, because although we start the second hundred years of Else, we've only begun to scratch the surface of her genius.
Muah. Thanks for all your help, and for introducing her to me in the first place.
Thanks for taking the Poetry Prompt challenge, Parker. You've interpreted the theme of 'Remember' in a great way; that we all need to remember what is happening at the Southern border in the name of the American people. I can imagine just the scene you paint, with the trucker being made example of to warn others away from compassion, something alien to the current Kremlin-installed regime in Washington. As for technical matters, your lines are all nicely consistent, and your rhymes flow by just barely above the level of noticing -- the way it should be If I can just mention one little, tinny-tiny, tiny-tinny, itseeebitsssee thing... I don't think "fuel" and "fool" make for a rhyme. My argument is that whereas you use the words as single-beat sounds, they both start with the same consonant but end in differing vowel sounds, because if they did not, then fuel and fool would be perfect homonyms. Perhaps if you rework the lines to force a two-beat reading, you could say "few-ull" and "fo-ull" rhyme, but that veers dangerously close to being contrived, imo. Again, thanks for playing along and writing a great poem!
This is a great Elegy. The two things this type of poetry are good at -- connection with nature, and remembrance of things lost -- are balanced here admirably. Your rhyme choices enhance the stanzas, and never distract, which is a hard thing to do. As for spreading a thought through a stanza, what matters is to avoid hard stops at the end of lines within the stanza. Here, you don't sense that very much, and things like line-end punctuation can add or distract from that goal. This is a great poem, and I'm really pleased you took the Poetry Prompt challenge
An excerpt from a novel I've been tinkering with, here is the start of chapter 10. The setting, 1816 was known as the "year without a summer" - it even snowed in July in the northern altitudes.
The sun had risen like a coal smuttering in the folds of a gray blanket. Boxing Day morning began cold, and the Royal Pavilion, usually so gaily warm, seemed but a gem locked in the heart of an iceberg.