"At the Market," Nicolae Vermont, 1912, WikiPainting photo.
“At the Market,” Nicolae Vermont, 1912, WikiPainting photo.

Part 1: Temptation and Fire Rites

At Athens agora, Shepherdess Orena sold
Wool bundles, gathering place of merchants,
Open air of tents and colonnades, attracted
By music of mountain bells from curtained
Door, incense and smoked meat drifting, she
Ventured within, greeted by Keleo, mistress
Of Hestia, ancient goddess of hearth fires.

Lashing tongues of flame, Keleo offered young
Orena, taste of wine, drug-laced blood elixir,
Oil fire-dripping, few pungent sips Orena fell
Into dream trance of fire-worshiping rites,
Animals devoured by flames, black smoke sky-
Rising, Hestia venerated since antiquity, by
Bitter nectar, Orena hungered for burnt flesh.

O! Dark magic of Hestia, Orena her princess
She became, fires of immortality, slender, nude,
Orena took dazed steps to waiting altar pyre,
Trusting child, her face ashen as scented oils
Dripped upon her breasts and womb, her soul’s
Sorrow, blazing torches thrown twixt legs wide
Splayed, feverish horrors all drug-dreamt.

When Orena awakened at harbour’s watery
Edge, melancholy gripped her soul, victim of
Grievous game, hallucinated fire rite, her heart
Hollow stone, Orena was evil touched, lingering
Dark-shadowed veil. Lost were joys of mountain
Meadow songs, empty was her sky, her sight
Blurred, her mind and body both benumbed.

"Pastoral Landscape," Claude Lorrain, 1677, WikiPainting photo.
“Pastoral Landscape,” Claude Lorrain, 1677, WikiPainting photo.

By oxen cart Orena returned home, coins and
Wool lost, her soul in crumbled agony for she
Had been so led astray, malice of seduction.
Lo! Her naive curiosity, heart anguished by guilt
And shame, scarab breast-clawing, confessions
To her family, washing, shearing sheep, wool
Fleece sorting, hard labours all in vain.

Poem of innocent temptation, it depicts how the
curious or well-meaning can fall prey to those who
will allure or deceive, including perversion of
religious rites, Hestia, goddess of hearth and home.

Next is “Part 2: Metamorphoséd Maid.”   

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