I. Ascending to Holy Cloud Temple

Delphi Temple Columns, photo courtesy of Gareth Blayney @GBlayney.
Delphi Temple Columns, photo courtesy of Gareth Blayney, @GBlayney.

Shining figure amongst clouds, ethereal beyond
Their reach, holy Cloud Temple, Dianthē and her
Family, pilgrims on lofty climbs of hand-hewn
Granite steps, stone masons’ dedicated labors,
Hammered chisels upon mountain’s brow, each
Step revealed from living stone, ascending from
Verdant plateaus to Altar of Eternal Gods.

Once reaching lower promenades, Dianthē and
Her pastoral family prayed and bathed in medi-
Cinal pools, upwelling artesian springs, prepara-
Tions to approach fissured crypts, by holy writ
Were concealed from mortal eyes, sequestered
Oracular voices, chorus of gods, many atuned as
One, fountain-head of sentient thoughts.

Wide and welcoming, lower steps of mirror-polished
Stone enchanted bounding pilgrims’ hearts, gradual
Ascent, prayers and hymns, lute and lyre, ebb and
Flow of light, journey aloft under light of milky moon
Before night surrendered to rosy dawn, their hopes
Elevated with each course taken, confessing sins,
Rising above earthly toils and past transgressions.

O! Restless spring, when warm and cold airy vapors
Collide, pilgrims climbed amongst dewy mists,
Edging towering rock-face, steps narrowed, twisting
With each arduous step, soulful prayers of salvation,
Redemption of inner thoughts, caring for each other
As they wept, whilst gods peered deep into their
Troubled hearts, dark agonies of lifetimes past.

Part II: Confessions Beneath Sunlit Clouds

Mummy Portrait of a Young Woman, 3rd Century, Louvre, Paris, Wikipedia photo. For this poem Dianthē metamorphosed into novitiate priestess.
Mummy Portrait of a Young Woman, 3rd Century, Louvre, Paris, Wikipedia photo. For this poem Dianthē metamorphosed into novitiate priestess.

Dianthē and her family, with sincere confessions
Made, learned to endure gravity of rising steps, for
Those who withheld secret sins, weeping-stone
Cleansing fountains were denied, bitter tastes
Devoured their souls, below blesséd mists they
Remained, cast down steps in mortal pains, above
Them first sunlit clouds rose on silent wings.

When first terrace reached, they paused to pray
Facedown on rough-hewn granite cliffs. In ancient
Days, animal sacrifices pilgrims made, blood of lambs yearlings spilled on craggy fonts, scattered bones and tufts of wool adorn peregrine nests, this first altar lay in quiet repose, absent were panicked
Bleats, ceremonial blood sprinkled on pilgrims robes.

Here instead they viewed rising sun, firmament of
Fertility and growth, spring’s dawning days, warming
Earth, fields of grain, orchard trees, vines of grapes,
To Flora they prayed. From holy canopy, they viewed
Her vast domain, stirring dormant soil to restless life,
Farmlands spread beyond reach of mortal eyes, wine
And celebrations her festive rites.

As Dianthē and family ascended, they glimpsed cloud-
Swept upper landings, metamorphosis of soul began
From earthly sinner to gods’ humble servants. Alas,
Pride gave way to obedience, love of holiness, disdain
For sinful ways, their ascent continued, steps steeper,
Turns tortuous, passages narrowed, for only pure of
Heart could reach epiphany of holy prayerful places.

Part III: Dianthē Approached Temple Gods

Upon final stepped climb, they reached sacred shrines,
Elevated above, the holy Cloud Temple stood, carved
By hand from heavenly stone, where deific light dwelled
In radiance divine. Scattered to each side, beyond wide
Cascading steps, lay pyramidal stones, twisted and con-
Torted, those whose hearts were deceitful to light of
Gods, gazed marrow-deep within, purge of evil doers.

On that day, Dianthē’s family offered her as novitiate-
Priestess to Cloud Temple deities, honors few attained,
For they were required to face oracular voices held in
Holy crypts, knowing thoughts burnishing heart and
Soul. Slim and olive-skinned, Dianthē approached the
Gods, no priest to guide her sandaled feet, hesitant and
Humbled, upon treacherous rocks she tread.

Bathed in light divine, Dianthē cried aloud as discerning
Eyes incised her soul and splayed wide her heart, only
One question did gods present. “Why do you wish to
Serve divinity?” Upon hearing this, Thyonē received
Saintly visions: Thought evoking light from primordial
Dust, stars formed from single breaths, in eternal epochs
Planets coalesced, oceans cooled, life sprang forth anew.

“To bring your word-thoughts, my Lords, to those who
Are afraid to believe, because of fear, no lack of faith,
They are beset in seas of doubt.” From this moment,
Gods accepted Dianthē. Whist her family returned to
Verdant plateaus below temple heights, she remained as
Guide to those who lived in dread, for worse than sin is
Mortal fear, those trembling from blesséd truths.

IV: Ancient Memories Recorded

O! Task of poetic chroniclers, pens on papyrus
Scrolls, recording histories as seen and often told,
Memories of few become that of all, and so with
This agéd account, holy Temple of Clouds ceased
To exist, foundations crumbled, divine crypts dark
And cold, discerning light of knowledge lost,
Dianthē’s bones reduced to scattered dust.

To this modern-day poetess visions have been
Given, families with loving parents, Dianthē and
Her selfless devotion, ancient gods of creation still
Secluded beyond din of worldly strife, yet they visit
Distant islands shores, eternal glimpses of love and
Faith for those who dare record ancient memories,
Lives of heroes, tomes of prophets and of saviors.

Written by inspiration of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses.” According to
Karl Galinsky, “Ovid’s relation to the Hellensitc poets was similar
to the attitude of Hellenistic poets themselves, to their predecessors;
he demonstrated that he had read their versions … but that he
could still treat myths in his own way.” I have attempted the same.

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