Thursday, September 24, 2015

Circe's Lament and other Visitations

I used to write the occasional poem, but that doesn't seem to happen much any more.  Perhaps the Muse of Poetry has flown away, finding me uninteresting.  Fickle creatures, muses.  But here is a poem I wrote years ago inspired by a strange Muse - the Goddess or Enchantress Circe of the fame of the Odyssey.  Ulysses  landed on her island, and among other things, she turned his men into swine.   It was originally inspired by  Margaret Atwood'Circe/Mud Poems.** (see her poem below).  I've loved the collection since the 70's, along with her rendering of yet another Goddess/heroine connected to the Odyssey, her so very witty look at Penelope's point of view in  The Penelopiad .  Penelope, like Circe, has  a somewhat different perspective on the events of mythic history.
In my poems, it would seem that the voice of "Lexusturned up after writing the first poem, no doubt to protest the indignity of being just an ordinary sailor, with the misfortune to be caught in someone else's epic.


I cannot recall how it happened.

I was on fire, I do remember that,
my imagination a tropical sunset
inflamed, exultant

and for one shining
Hallelujah of an hour
everything I touched

You squeal your indignation
through ruddy snouts:

It was a misfire, I swear it.

In the splendor of my exuberance
this was nothing I anticipated.

Tell your handsome Captain
I will petition the Gods this very day.
I have grown old, absent minded

in my solitude
my spells go astray

be patient, dear ones.
Meditate upon this dark, fertile
squalor of sensuous mud
you find yourself
so horizontal in.
This low rooting through an
odoriferous cosmos of fragrant compost.

Are you so undone
by the base pleasure of it all?
This nosing, snorting self-knowing,
the delight of a half fermented carrot?
Never a sow smelt so sweetly fecund before
nor was love so simple.

Surely we have become sleepy,
half-drowned by the lethargy
of our two-legged dignity.

Consider this, if you will,
an interlude of primordial grace.



All I wanted
was a touch, a kindly word,
a little ease.

Eight long Gods' forsaken years
on the stinking boat, and before that,
war, war, war, blood
and lamentation.

Who are you,
to name me thus?
Is your worth and wit
so much greater than mine

to dole out shame,
because I dared to love you
in my clumsy way?

Did I not bring you flowers
admire you from afar?

HE is adored by Goddesses,
hears the Sirens sing his wild praises,
returning at last to patient little Penelope,
his pretty kingdom.
Ballads, sung at last
beside his flowery grave.

Me - bale, Lexus, bale!
hoist the mast,
and don’t piss on the foredeck.

Who are you, to unmake me thus?
To twist and shape me
as suits your capricious humor
because my face is unlovely,
my gestures naive?

Who are you to judge my folly?

what magnitudes I glimpsed,
what private splendors
lived once within this breast?

Lauren Raine (2000)


There are so many things 
I wanted you to have.
This is mine, this tree,
I give you its name,

here is food, white like roots, red,
growing in the marsh, on the shore,
This is mine, this tree,
I give you its name,

here is food, white like roots, red,  
growing in the marsh, on the shore,
I pronounce these names for you also.

This is mine, this island, 
you can have the rocks,
the plants that spread themselves flat
over the thin soil,
I renounce them.
You can have this water,this flesh, I abdicate,

I watch you, 
you claim without noticing it,
you know how to take. 

Margaret Atwood   (1972)

1 comment:

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Muses are often fickle playmates. Love the poems, all of them. A book you might enjoy, Lauren: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her ideas on creativity are truly about magic.