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

Dawning collapse of marbled porticos,
Disrupting quiet prayers at Apollo’s Delphi
Temple. Whether wresting resurrection or
Rumbling earth-tremors, secluded niche
Shattered, ancient ivory bones poured forth
Upon the cloistered peristyle floor.

A vaporous human form hovered warily over
An immaculate ivory skull, bronze sword and
Shield, markings of Zeus, gold arm bands,
Flowing red robe, secrets sealed since antiquity,
Burial crypt of Pythia, voices twixt mortal and
Divine, bathed in righteous burning light.

Amongst parishioners was an orphan maid,
Ismene, unblemished and pure, whose family
Persians thrust to depths of foam-streaked
Ionian Seas. In pallid trance, she approached
Dazzling light, sunbeams ghost-paling, con-
Sumed by Pythia’s covetous raging storm.

Sirens screaming, flaming torrents entwined,
Ismene’s life-soul sacrificed, recast through
Archaic rites, beyond earthly knowing, horrid
Violent curse, tomb-breached Pythia emerged
Anew in female form, oracle of Typhaon’s
Vicious eye.

Her place attained, false Pythia began revealing
Visions deep within Delphi temple. Fearful of
Ismene’s death, animal sacrifices supplicants
Made, goat intestines spilled upon bloodstained
Altar bowls, livers explored for frenzied secrets
From false gods, deceit on fiery wings.

Ismene’s life-soul sacrificed, she was lost to
Darkest void, reckless act, rousing awareness,
Realm of benevolent gods, wrenching time’s
Fabric, family resurrection from depths of
Ionian Seas, thrusting Pythia deep into molten
Magma lake, Vulcan earth-core grave.

For more information on Pythia and the Delphic Oracle, see this link:

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