literature

Contemplating Helen

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knittingknots's avatar
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Literature Text

Contemplating Helen after the War



Run your fingers through the dusky wool
colored by the death of snails
combed soft and fine
that you wrap around your distaff
and pull  into a fine thread
by the twirling of your golden spindle.

Royal purple, the color of congealed blood –
Do you think of him sometimes,
the beautiful man who stole you away,
and how the blood streamed down his throat
from the arrow's flight?

Royal purple,
and as you look upon the man who would not let you go,
who turned the world upside down
for the green hills of your birth,
where he sits, content,
king of the country he received as dowry,
does the purple make you remember
the spilled blood,
the smell of fire and the sound of tears
wailed into the afterworld?

I watch your kohl-rimmed eyes,
and see your shining hair,
and your smile revealing nothing as you drop your spindle,
pull down the thread
and wonder what tale your own lips would give
if you, and not the poets,
had recorded your adventure.
Inspired by a scene from the Odyssey, and from reading Hughes' Helen of Troy
© 2009 - 2021 knittingknots
Comments12
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This is a lovely piece. I'm compiling a devotional to the Dioskouroi, and am including Helen: [link] Would you be interested in submitting this piece for inclusion in the devotional?

John
knittingknots's avatar
Sure. That's really very cool of you to ask. Is there something I need to do?
Thanks for the reply!

If you don't mind, could you send this to the devotional e-mail at dioscuridevotional@gmail.com and say that it's okay to publish it in the devotional. I'd also need your name or the name under which you'd like it to be published.

I'm overdue on getting this out the door but am trying to get it done before the end of this Summer. If you have any other questions please let me know! I'll answer anything that I can.

John
knittingknots's avatar
Done!I'll be looking forward to seeing the anthology when it's out...It looks very interesting to me
We'll be sending out notifications when it's ready and for sale, and contributors will get a discount. I don't think a ton of these will sell, but that's not the important thing here. It's more important to get the work out there and circulating. I'm excited and glad to hear that you find it interesting as well!
teardownthefence's avatar
I love the last stanza
Cibbwin's avatar
Gorgeous reinterpretation! The repeated 'royal purple' line had me gripped with a great visual image.

You make her seem like such a non-victim - like a selfish, rather dull-witted girl with no real grasp on what's going on around her.

Kudos!
knittingknots's avatar
The problem with Helen is we have no real idea of what was going on in that head of hers...She was worshipped as a demi-goddess in Sparta for a long, long time, and is such an enigmatic character...The classical poets make her seem passive, at the beck and call of whoever controls her, like they do most of the women from their stories, but she was from an era where women really had more say so than they would later, and in Sparta, this would remain true much longer than in Athens...

She's such a puzzle.
Cibbwin's avatar
I didn't even think about Spartan women and the time period in history, but you are so right! She probably WAS more shrewd than we think.

Hey, historians have an amazing way of silencing fascinating women. :(
somnomollior's avatar
A fascinating subject. Indeed, what does go on in her head, if anything? She is like a puppet in the way she has been written about over time and no one knows her own story.
LovelyLadyGray's avatar
Always found this ancient poem to be quite interesting being a lover of mythology. Like the simple feeling of this poem, Sue-chan. Hope to see more tales & poems. :hug:
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