"Sweet Summer," John W. Waterhouse, 1912, Wikimedia photo.
“Sweet Summer,” John W. Waterhouse, 1912, Wikimedia photo.

A soulful season, Aegean summers were
Impassioned with sun and salt-sea air. At the
Entrance to Grecian temples, sweet shade of
Flowering roses and gently flowing fountains
Provided intoxicating repose. Mingling amongst
Fluted marble columns, ocean breezes stirred
Sensual dreams of distant lovers, gallant armored
Heroes, battlefield lost, surviving honoured.

In impassioned sleep, Iyonna’s mind stirred
From portico steps to roiling cumulous clouds,
Realm of vaporous light to find her love, sun-
Bronzed Klymos, warrior-son of Æthere. A lesser
God in divine hierarchy, Klymos lifted Iyonna in
Her dreams to his lofty sphere. Bare-breasted and
Exposed, she accepted him in Araidne-like
Submission, yearning for his virile advance.

During Aegean summer nights as ocean clouds
Coalesced and merged, lightning glowed deep
Within anviled thunderheads, embraces of Iyonna
And Klymos raised to ethereal heights. As rain fell,
Sleeping Iyonna stirred awake, windblown rose
Petals gracing fountained pool. As welling spring,
Klymos filled her receptive chalice. In rousing
Moments, Iyonna realized she carried Klymos’
Immortal child.

Various explanations of the anonymous young woman depicted in Waterhouse’s “Sweet Summer” painting recognize the classical tradition and assumes she represents love unfulfilled. This poem presents an alternative to her bare-breasted summer sleeping. Pink roses symbolize secretive romance, lion-head fountain male virility, and the pool adjacent to her hips, divine fertility. What do you think these three elements may symbolize?

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