Tuesday, May 14, 2013



Before you were my daughter come into the world,
before you were even born,
you were promised to the darkness
deep beneath my giving earth.
I never knew
what one brother had promised to another,
I never knew
what great Zeus had promised to dark Hades:
I never knew.

Now you have been taken.
Perhaps a part of you went all-knowing
because your soul already knew
what was necessary:
the abduction of the self
the rape of the soul
the violence which comes with transformation
the violence that is necessary for separation
from me, from your mother.

And so for me begins a new state of being:
A new silence, like no silence I have known.
A trifle: a handful of pomegranate seeds
sealed your fate forever:
my child, you are now in Hades' world
and his realm is not mine. 
I, Demeter, who am mother to the earth itself
have had my motherhood stolen from me.

Now my own earth knows my rage
now the dry soil cracks with grief,
now Autumn has come in Spring:
new leaves wither and die in bud,
birds fall silent, fields lie fallow,
and I, the Mater Creatrix, rule a waste land.

Where are you, my daughter,
living out your shadow life
in the dark lands far beneath my feet?
Do you still live,
or are you now a shade among shades?
Where are you, my changed one?
Where are you, my Persephone? 

Gust of Wind by Lucien Levy-Dhurmer


  1. This poem truly brings to life the anguish of Demeter's loss of her daughter, Persephone, to Hades, the god of the underworld. Although this is poem is about a Greek myth it also expresses the deep pain of loss that all mothers have experienced or will experience. It expresses a universal pain and rage. Under the surface of anger or rage is always some type of pain. The myth does have a conclusion - perhaps not ideal but a compromise of sorts that is worked out and Persephone is reunited with her mother for part of the year - allowing plants to grow again.

    In life we all face pain and loss in some form or another. It seems to be a constant theme in this world of forms. From a spiritual point of view (you knew this was coming) these are learning lessons that make us to look squarely at our pain or loss, at ourselves, and lead us to find that which is deeper than the pain, that which transcends it, that which is truly change-less. In this place there is a transformation that provides us a deeper understanding and transcendence of the suffering.

  2. Joseph, yes - the power of these myths is that, even after millennia of time, they go on being true because they speak to our own experiences in a way that makes them feel so immediate. Strange, isn't it - that we now say "It's just a myth", meaning "it's not real", when it is myths which hold these great and deep emotional realities! Thank you as well for supplying the extra elements of the myth which my poem does not cover. Yes, it is, as you say 'a compromise of sorts' which is reached that allows the earth to bloom and flourish once more.

    And, yes - I 'knew this was coming'! Pain is confronting, because it forces us to look at things. But as you add, it also offers us the opportunity to transform the pain by going deeper still. To run away from pain is an instinctive and understandable reaction, but it is one which only makes it grow. 'Pain is your friend' might have become a cliché saying, but it is so very true. Pain is also a wise teacher if we allow it to be.