"Allegory of Peace and War," Pompeo Batoni, 1776, Wikimedia photo.
“Allegory of Peace and War,” Pompeo Batoni, 1776, Wikimedia photo.

Part 4: Crucible of Time

Helmet and shield, Ægis of Æon, mercurial
And eternal, by his thoughts moments are
Separated and discerned, fortunes and fates
Recast. Girded to his side, Kybele, immortal
Charioteer, her bright armor stripped away.
By Æon’s thrusts, her tender womb conceived,
Crucible of time, new millennia given birth.

Outside Royal Library of Alexandria, Iola
Reckoned truth from falsehood by another
Like herself. “I know who you are,” female
Voice whispered at her ear. “Servant girl,
Priestess of Æon and Kybele.” “Who are
You?” Iola asked. “Casta is my name, Æon
And his temple I have shunned for decades.”

“Your family?” Iola asked. “The moment you
Entered the temple they were dead,” Casta
Advised. “Centuries it took to realize. Time
Portal, the temple is not real, Æon and Kybele
Are mirror images, reflections from distant
Clouded planes.” “You are not returning home?
Whilst deceived, Iola still confirmed.

"Far From Home," William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1873, WikiArt photo.
“Far From Home,” William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1873, WikiArt photo.

Neither Casta, Iola, nor dozens like them
Returned to their own times, families long
Since dead, buried in mountainside graves,
Villages crumbled to rocky ruin, overgrown
By thick spruces, passing torchlights, luring
Web for those fascinated, thus captivated by
Time-hewn temple not built on earthly stone.

Thus it was for ages, Æon and Kybele taken by
Raptured torment, desirous for books from
Antiquity, only theirs to possess, knowledge
And wisdom secreted from mortal eyes. Iola
And Casta, servant girls, watched from distance
As Alexandria Library burned, ancient wisdom
they god-denied in the crucible of time.

Everything, therefore, seemed quite different to [Iola] — the long straight tracks, the harbours, the precipices, and the goodly trees,  appeared all changed as [she] stared up and [dreamed about] her native land.
— Adapted from Homer’s “Iliad,” Ulysses Returning to Ithaca.

I am oft asked what do I read? For these four “Iola” poems, I referred to Hesiod and “Homeric Hymns,” and quoted writers cited at conclusion of each poem from The Greek Word. I also referred to “The Roman Festival of the Period of the Republic,” W. Warde Forwler, M.A., London, Macmillian and Co., Limited, 1899, an ex libris copy.


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