"Electra at the Tomb..." Frederic Leighton, circa 1868, WikiArt photo.
“Electra at the Tomb…” Frederic Leighton, circa 1868, WikiArt photo.

On Ilse of Ios I remain, my bones and soul
Bound within bronze tomb. Once lost to
Dreamless sleep, soul and body cleaved in
Two, I had died but did not pass away. Black
Draped, my skin decayed, receding upon
My skull, eyes hollow, to earth unburied,
Entombed perpetually, no stone to roll away,
Bronze door locked with key, fetid air to
Breathe, one window pane affords my view
Of time, never-changing skies and seas.

How I miss forests and streams, glens and
Meadows, motion of wind and clouds. Yet
I reside in death’s domicile, time’s weave
Unraveling, for long I have waited months
And years. In death, life makes much sense,
Tears of dust, my body turned to same, love
Of family, adoring husband, their mourning
Sealed me eternally, blessing or curse, I await
Glimpse on clifftop path as they approach,
Less frequent as seasons crumble and fade.

With flowers they kneel and pray, palms
Pressed to my window, can you not hear me
Scream? Banging on bronze door, I am here,
Captive soul with my desiccated other self,
No beginning, middle or end, I watch my
Children age. They return, familiar oxen-
Drawn cart, my husband died, place him
Not within this bronze barricade, clicking
Lock and key, hinges screech, fresh sea air
Entering, my soul soars free.

"Dawn," William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1881, Wikiart photo.
“Dawn,” William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1881, Wikiart photo.

My love, enter not that curséd tomb, in
Death I have waited for us to sail heaven’s
Clouds, wide wingéd pair we shall be,
Trumpets ring unbraiding tunes, hearts
Resurrected feather-light, souls ascending
Dawning heights, godly sunlight, taking
To guiding breeze, to find infinity in all
Things, marveled island shores, azure seas,
Our lives echoing and forever entwined,
You and me.

Of historical significance, Homer’s marble tomb is on the Greek
Isle of Ios. In this poem, the female narrator’s tomb is of bronze,
of Homer’s:
“Maiden of bronze I am and sit upon the tomb of Midas.
While water flows, and tall trees put forth leaves, and
rivers swell, and the sea breaks on the shore; while the
sun rises and shines and the bright moon also, ever
remaining on this 
mournful tomb I tell the passer-by
that Midas here lies buried.”
From “Contest of Homer and Hesiod”

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