By Victor Howes
Persephone gathering flowers,
Herself a fairer flower, by gloomy Dis was gathered . . . .
Dis is not happy when I stay away
Half the year, raising corn with the corn-mother.
Gods are a jealous lot, and Dis is prey
To gloomy dumps, suspects I have another.
He is not happy that he has to share.
With him it’s all or nothing: dead is dead.
“Look at it this way, honey,” I declare,
“Up in the upper world I’m yeasting bread
From oats, peas, beans, barley, and golden corn.
The dark earth yields ripe fruits of resurrection.
Unless the grain die, how can grain be born?
My absence from your side. . . It’s not rejection.
It’s death-to-life eternally returning.”
Dis is not happy with it, but he’s learning.
From Thoughts after Spenser by Victor Howes. Cambridge: Harvard Book Store, 2016. Copyright © Victor Howes.