Before getting into today’s poem, some background: as someone who spent years of my life studying old western literature, I was always struck by something lost in our own culture. In the modern world, no where could I seem to find beautiful and lengthy poems. At some point they fell out of style whether for the lack of concentration in modern peoples or for their inability to write such texts. Where were our literary artists who could write massive poetic volumes on the gods or heroes and thus reveal so much about our psyches, destinies, and experiences as human creatures all while demonstrating such a sustained connection and display of poetic beauty? That the modern world seemed to lack such poetic ability and fortitude troubled me deeply. I wondered if I was the only person who would find myself in a melancholy over a dark age that so many people could not see but rather mistook for the great age of science and technology. While science and technology have done so much for human life, our veneration of them is misfounded and has robbed us of so much creative and spiritual generation. The theft of such leaves us in a state of darkness.
Certainly, there is a whole world of opinion out there, and since I am introducing a poem and not writing an academic argument or treatise, I can but acknowledge the spectrum of thought of the topics of science, technology, and literature. Think what you will, but in my ongoing personal quest to connect with creativity and to perhaps see if my pen might create something that in any way might be enjoyed as might a passage from Ovid, Milton, or Spenser, I thus present a small poem on the wind nymph Orithyia, who was once a mortal princess, and later the wife of Boreas, the north wind. When I wrote this poem, I was journaling on the qualities of air, but it turned into something else. I hope it brings you a moment of joy and if there be but a fraction of the beauty of the great classic poems, then I find myself lucky.
Despite my criticisms about the modern world, I did find inspiration in a modern song writer, Chelsea Wolfe, and her song “Anhedonia,” which she created with Emma Ruth Rundel. I was working on my writing about air when her song came out, and I was delighted by the beauty and ingenuity that was brought to the psychological topic of anhedonia. The title, I recognized, would be unfamiliar to most people who do not study psychology or have schizophrenia, yet she or they selected the complex Greek rooted title anyway. As a writer, I found the choice mentally stimulating. When I was writing my poem about the element of air, I had the thought that if they had the artistic guts to make an extremely complex title choice, then I could too. Though I doubt that they would ever stumble on my Medium blog, I send my gratitude out to Chelsea Wolfe and Emma Ruth Rundel for sharing their artistic/musical gifts to the world and thus inspiring others who are touched by the muses.
The poem: “Orithyia”
She was so tired of tragedy, so
Air destroyed the lock,
Blew the doors open to the storm.
Doe eyed, Orithyia reposed, watching the destruction,
Tears streaming down her face,
The face of the bride to be.
Who entered then but the power of Air,
Wrathful, words like a stabbing fencing foil,
Her voice wailed like a banshee,
While Orithyia lay disillusioned and metallic,
Dumbfounded and erratic,
Arrows of thought streaming from her breast.
“Remove the blindfold you cannot see
And read the arcane ways of time,
How it circulates in pantomime.
The intellect, invention, and creativity:
Wondrous, but intuition crowns perceptivity.
Thus, it is your charge to shed your futile mortality.”
“Oh elemental Air, you stir the wisteria,
The plants hanging from the bowers,
Upsetting the scent of blossoms,
In accordance with the planetary hours,
And in the apparitions of your phantom,
Spinning, I see the lonely threads:
A solitary dance with scales shining,
Alone but for the flowers in their beds.
Lo, a flower unpicked becomes a spinster,
Her wedding weeds decked in dusty webs
From which hang prismatic spiders,
Coated with the dust of rotted roses,
Stirred by volatile vapors.
Oh elemental Air,
Breeze forth these shades of whispers,
Yet save me from this fate,
It is not for me to abstain,
A nymph in human skin.”
The Air elemental then deigned to show
Another path for which to roam.
“On this path, your veil floats above and below;
Handfasted to Boreas,
You will see within the images of the clouds,
The battles of the gods and their celestial vows,
And though his nature is cold,
His kiss like ice, and his gaze old,
Together, your fortune will be delivered in
The warm bee’s paradise,
Whose hum vibrates space next to the ear,
Like a love letter orated to dispel all fears.”
Orithyia bowed her head,
Her arms transformed to wings.
She became the floating body of the séance
And the visions that it brings.
The puzzle of her spirit
Conveyed in obscure space,
Enlivened the trails of her imaginings,
Revealing hints of his trace.
And thus ascended Orithyia,
Her husband for to find,
This the wife to be of Boreas,
The northern wind to find.