"Ismenia," John William Godward, 1908, Wikiart photo.
“Ismenia,” John William Godward, 1908, Wikiart photo.

Known as “Wretched Widow,” farmers and
Fishers gazed not upon her dark-veiled face,
Victim of Peloponnesian War, Kandace lost
All to Athenian conquering armies, wealth and
Social standing taken, disfigured by sword
And flame, her Isle of Melos ocean villa burned,
Children into slavery sold, pathos of burning
Ash and skin-abrading shackles, atrocities too
Horrific for maternal heart to bear.
 

At edge of fields and farms, Kandace rambled
Amongst rocky thistled ridges, blight upon their
Fields. Rags concealed her scars, she knew not
Who or where she was, tearing hair once fillet-
Adorned and finely braided. In darkness and
In shame, Kandace fled to tree-shrouded moun-
Tain shrine of healing pools, fruits and grains
Devoured, votive offerings to Themis, Titaness
And just goddess of cerulean Ægean Isles.
 

“What brings you to my sacred altar?” Themis
Asked, light of godly eyes penetrated Kandace’s
Mind. Awestruck, Kandace released her gown,
Tattered threads to feet, revealing wounds of
Athenian fire and blades, wandering corpse,
Beyond grave’s cold reach. Whilst immortal gods
Decreed, no tears shed for mortal war-wounded,
Titaness’ breasts were pity-moved beholding
How war-cruel Athenians violated female flesh.
 

“O! What pains have thee endured, thy womb
Fire-burned?” asked Themis. “What remedy to
Be made?” Kandace replied, “Fruitful woman I
Am no longer, I know not myself, by fates have
I survived, I pray for another life, eternal peace.”
At Themis’ direction, Kandace stepped into
Welling pools, scarred body immersed head
And foot, Kandace yearned for blesséd death,
Last mortal breath of life.
 

"Priestess of Delphi," John Collier, 1891, Wikipedia photo. For this poem, the malevolent Pythia.
“Priestess of Delphi,” John Collier, 1891, Wikipedia photo.

Within bloody froth of torrid founts, defiled
Flesh stirred free, another ascended, swirling
Vaporous clouds, metamorphosed from gross
Deformity, Kandace became Kadatha, mind
And body replaced. Farmers and fishers gazed
Not upon her veiled face, eyes of prophetic sight,
Kadatha resided with Themis, guarding godly
Wisdom, longevity and immortal soul granted,
Oracle of ancient gods.

Based on failed war negations of “Melian Dialogue” by
Thucydides, circa 416 BCE.

For a related poem, see “Acheron Becomes Astraeus.”

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