Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ode to a Myrtle Berry...

At this time, they tell of an infectious epidemic
that coldly killed the king of Crete, Androgeos.
The Cercropian citadel was to give a banquet for the Minotaur,
with the best youths and equally brilliant maidens.
When these narrow walls shook with evil,
Theseus chose to rush forward, offering his body
for Athens, preferring a certain death
to the rising deaths in the Cercropia.
And so he came on the course of sleek light and slick wind
to the massive and tyrannical seat of Minos
As soon as the young daughter caught sight of him
in the palace, she exhaled a scent like virgin lust
in her bed, still nursed on her mother’s soft embrace,
like myrtle berry on the streams of Eurotas—
a distinct breath drawn out of green colors.
The sight of him before her burned.
It took hold of her entire body. A flame
dug at all of her innermost marrow.
O the miserable frenzy you excite with an unripe heart!
Sacred boy, you confuse happiness with human desire.
And you reign in Golgi and in the forests of Idalia.
On what waves did you hurl her flaring mind,
sighing for the stranger with yellow hair?
How much fear did she hold in her heart?
How often did she turn pale as great flashes of gold?
When raging with desire against the monster,
Theseus strode toward death or hard fought glory.
Not unlike little prayers offered to gods,
a useless promise set fire from her lips.
Just as tree branches shake as high as Taurus
or as cones drip off pine bark,
an untamed wind twists the whirling oak.
Roots thrust up in the distance, torn
and bent over, still twitching.
Theseus arches over the raging body,
arms raised in the vacant wind.
Then he retraced his untouched tracks,
roaming this thin thread,
unaffected by the twisting labyrinths.
He wanders on unnoticed.
-Catullus, "LXIV" (excerpt)


  1. Thanks, FJ. It's a very fine piece of poetry.

    "He wanders on unnoticed", once even i longed for it. :)

  2. You are one of the rare few who should not wander about unnoticed. :)

  3. I will try to be worthy of your praise, FJ. Thank you so much. :)