Persephone and Hades Poetry

Hmm, it seems lately I have inadvertently come across several poems about the Persephone and Hades myth. Which is kind of fitting, too, it being National Poetry Month and all.

So first there was “Persephone at the Farmer’s Market” by J. P. Dancing Bear. Actually I had read this poem several months ago and forgotten it, but it recently reappeared again.

Even now, I cannot lose the memory of scent.
It leads me to pomegranates, halved, lying on a table,
the globes of puckered skin are red as my own lips.
This is the season of abduction — fruit pulled
from branches and vines. The dense perfumes
of fresh jams and pies slice the slow dawn.

Then a couple days ago, I found “A Myth of Devotion” by Louise Glück, and let me just say, I love this poem. I won’t excerpt out the end, which is what made me reread the poem multiple times. Just go read the whole thing through.

When Hades decided he loved this girl
he built for her a duplicate of earth,
everything the same, down to the meadow,
but with a bed added.

After that, I found “From Persephone’s Letters to Demeter” by Nan Fry.

I’m learning new words
like pomegranate,
a word you can suck on:
pom—thick and round, a bittersweet
bulge, e—the one you slide over
to get to gran—a slow swelling,
cancer or the rose, it doesn’t matter,
then granate—a stone stopping
you hard and cold.

Finally, I (also accidentally) came across Louise Glück’s other poem, “A Myth of Innocence”. It arrives just a few poems ahead of “A Myth of Devotion” in her collection, Averno. I have got to own this book. To Read/Buy List, added!

One summer she goes into the field as usual stopping for a bit at the pool where she often looks at herself, to see if she detects any changes. She sees the same person, the horrible mantle of daughterliness still clinging to her.

I feel like I’m even forgetting a couple here and there. I was talking to Carlea recently about how Greek mythology is enjoying this pretty awesome popularity in fandom, what with tons of fan art and mixes being created and all I want to know is where was all that ten years ago and oh my god yes it’s been ten years!

What do I find so fascinating about this myth in particular? Why do I find it more interesting than, say, the Eros and Psyche myth? I mean, the original myth is about abduction, kidnap, and by some accounts, rape. Not pretty, not romantic. I do know I like a lot of the recasting and interpretations I’ve seen. I feel like there was one piece—poem, I think—where Persephone wasn’t a girl who lost something of herself. Wish I could remember which one that was.

ETA. Found another one: “Persephone, Falling” by Rita Dove.

This is how easily the pit
opens. This is how one foot sinks into the ground.

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