"After the Bath," William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1894, WikiArt photo.
“After the Bath,” William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1894, WikiArt photo.

Awakened by heat, mid-August days I
Remember, scorching crops, burning
Beaches, tepid Ægean Sea, fish avoiding
Warm waves, lingering deep and dark,
Where they could better breathe, amongst
Sunken wrecks, ruins of cities had fallen
Into the sea. I stayed close to thick-wooded
Shores, shadowed edge of lazy-lapping surf.

What rites appeased Greek gods of summer?
We took cool fresh-water baths and offered
Small fish into sacrificial fires. Understood
Were planting seasons, stars and planets,
Yet superstitions filled our lives. Rites per-
Formed years ago, by coincidence allaying
Heat and saving crops, we practiced for
Enduring decades, oft to no avail.

Yes, we dedicated our days to worshiping
Household gods, their domain special to
Our needs: Neptune to sea, Demeter to
Fertile fields and farming, crops withering
In August heat. Rites dedicated to her,
Prayers and hymns, offerings expected,
More than fruit and wheat, one animal
Slaughtered so all our crops survived.

On this August morn, sun blistering bright,
Earth continues since antiquity, long days,
Humid nights, relieved by solace of sea,
Evenings cooled by shoreline waves and
Breezes. Many respects, life is much the
Same, hard work and sacrifice. Plowing
Dark-rich soil, sowing seeds, casting
Fishing nets are modern-day acts of faith.

"Aphrodite Anadyomene," fresco from Pompeii, Casa di Venus, 1st century AD, Wikipedia photo.
“Aphrodite Anadyomene,” fresco from Pompeii, Casa di Venus, 1st C. AD, Wikipedia photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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