Mythology & Folklore

Pallinode, Book 1, Section 7

Helen achieves the difficult task of translating a symbol in time, into timeless-time or hieroglyph or ancient Egyptian time. She knows the script, she says, but we judge that this is intuitive or emotional knowledge, rather than intellectual. In any case, a night-bird swooped toward them, in their first encounter on the beach. To Achilles, lately arrived from Troy and the carnage of battle, this is a "carrion creature," but Helen would banish these memories. She says she is "instructed," she is enchanted, rather.

Labuntur et Imputantur

It was overcast. No hour at all was indicated by the gnomon.
With difficulty I made out the slogan, Time and tide wait for no man.

I had been waiting for you, Daphne, underneath the dripping laurels, near
The sundial glade where first we met. I felt like Hamlet on the parapets of Elsinore,

Alerted to the ectoplasmic moment, when Luna rends her shroud of cloud
And sails into a starry archipelago. Then your revenant appeared and spake aloud:

In Sparta

He didn’ t know, King Kleomenis, he didn’ t dare —
he just didn’ t know how to tell his mother
a thing like that: Ptolemy’ s demand,
to guarantee their treaty, that she too go to Egypt
and be held there as a hostage —
a very humiliating, indecorous thing.
And he would be about to speak yet always hesitate,
would start to tell her yet always stop.

The Apparition

When by thy scorn, O murd'ress, I am dead
And that thou think'st thee free
From all solicitation from me,
Then shall my ghost come to thy bed,
And thee, feign'd vestal, in worse arms shall see;
Then thy sick taper will begin to wink,
And he, whose thou art then, being tir'd before,
Will, if thou stir, or pinch to wake him, think
Thou call'st for more,
And in false sleep will from thee shrink;
And then, poor aspen wretch, neglected thou

Saint Stephen’s Day with the Griffins

Half-eagle, half-lion, the fabulous
animal struts, saber-clawed but saintly,
a candlewicked ornament dangling
from our rickety sugar pine. Butternut

pudding in our bellies. His reindeer
and sleigh hurried here and gone — thank God
for us childless folks. Almost: the lovelocked
Griffins on the sofa, sockfooted, hearing