"Psyche," William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1894, WikiArt photo.
“Psyche,” William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1894, WikiArt photo.

Curious child of ten, Ærope accompanied
Attic farming family, first ceremonies to
Demeter in forested glade. In innocence,
She approached stone slab altar, offerings
Of flowers and first fruits, bowls of dates
And figs, bites she took of each, syrupy
Sweet delight, stream-washed pebbles she
Replaced, simple kindness goddess noticed,
Eyes perplexed by girl of such young age.

In Ærope’s sleep, Demeter visited, single
Blessing given, as child decided, to sing
Sweet as doves on airy wings, to her heart
Night-descending, emboldened by innocent
Love, girl of melodies and refrains Ærope
Became. Voice of golden sunrays, singing at
First alone, wandering in wheat wind-waving,
Then where family could hear, overwhelmed
By their surprise.

For as Ærope sang sweet melodies, her songs
Were of epics unknown to her, histories and
Legends beyond mind’s knowing, muses alive
And unbound, gentle-voiced child, light within
Her eyes, unwavering tone and gaze, from one
Of youthful years and slender frame, in mirth
Her young heart cried aloud. O! Sweet cruelties,
Ærope’s voice of neither heaven nor earth, for
Those listening, forever they were changed.

Some believed Ærope was Calypso, god accursed,
Returned as naive child, forgotten her love for
Odysseus, children she bore and raised alone,
Disdain of releasing hero-wanderer to Penelope,
Pained anguish admixing flesh mortal and divine,
Separation of arms and manly hold. Sing child
Of plights you do not know, offer prayers and
Hymns of praise to immortal gods, Odysseus
Has hence sailed to less-enchanted lands.

"Soul Carried to Heaven," William-Adolphe Bouguereau, circa 1878, WikiArt photo.
“Soul Carried to Heaven,” William-Adolphe Bouguereau, circa 1878, WikiArt photo.

Blesséd child, for brief years Ærope brought
Solace to sick of soul, her songs at Demeter’s
Temple steps, for few dates and figs, she sang
Melodious refrains, flowing pebbled streams,
Heart-healing harmonies, until one most hurt
Or helped, gods cannot fathom, stepped from
Adoring crowds thrusting dagger into breasts
Of adolescence. On final breath, Demeter
Uplifted Ærope, choir of silver wings.

This poem is written in memory  of Christina Grimmie.
“We suffered for our art…” Terry Gilliam


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