"Ionian Dancing Girl," John William Godward, 1902, WikiArt photo, for this poem Ayté.
“Ionian Dancing Girl,” John William Godward, 1902, WikiArt photo, for this poem Ayté.

As debt-payment, servant came to us, not by
Household needs or wants. Known as Ayté,
She spoke no Greek, but Thracian, dialect not
Known to us. As promised for 100 drachmas,
She arrived by sailing ship from distant Abdera
To Athens, gifted to me, Rene, adult daughter
Of wealthy Stavros merchant family.

Of northern Ægean seashores, Ayté felt at ease
At my ocean villa skirting Salamina Mountain
Heights, woman who knew her duties better
Than I, since I bathed in unattended privacy
And self-dressed. Yet, Ayté caressed my body
With soapy sponges and with fragrant oils,
Such luxuries unaccustomed.

When satisfied with her adoring comforts,
I shooed Ayté away like flies on figs and fish,
Disappearing beyond diaphanous sheers
Given to melodic refrains in vexing Thracian
Verse, dancing barefoot on breezy ocean
Balconies, oblivious to my presence or my
Condemning eyes and ears.

In cruel corners of my mind, I reckoned why
Her lord sold nimble-body Ayté into servi-
Tude, shackles abrading ankles and wrists.
Unfettered in my house, she composed poetry
On lengths of papyri, sacred script of gods and
Sages, heart of fire and flame, handmaiden
Blessed equally as possessed.

One sea-roaring night, Ayté appeared bedside,
Breasts unclad, desiring body warmth. Whilst
Sleeping as sisters twained, muses spoke, at
First murmuring words, then singing clarion
Clear. Gods eternal, maiden metamorphosed,
Gaze constant-fixed, chanting spirits wept,
Hundred frenzied tongues and lips.

"Gallo-Roman Women," Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1865, Wiki-Art photo.
“Gallo-Roman Women,” Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1865, Wiki-Art photo.

O! Ayté, my mysterious love, shrewd cambion,
Off-spring of succubus and mortal male, what
Specters enchant thee upon heaving seas, shores
Crashing, earth asunder lashed? Soul unhinged,
Never shall you be chained. Wingéd sprite, tem-
Pest tormented, dance within my yielding arms
On ocean sands and on our balconies.

Written in spirit of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses.”
For more on mythological succubus and cambions,
click here.

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