Drafting: “Persephone Writes to Her Mother”

I’ve been thinking a lot about re-envisioning myths, mostly because my poem “Pygmalion Makes a Woman” got snapped up so quickly. Since I took Ancient Greek in undergrad and Latin in both high school and undergrad, I’ve always really had an attraction to the classics.

This morning, I saw someone else recommended reading this poem by Molly Spencer up on LineBreak. I really enjoy the strangeness of the piece, the melding of ship making with upholstery with agriculture. It weaves a lot of things in a disjointed, but lovely way. I decided to apply the same principle, a “letter” from Persephone, after her marriage to Hades, to her mother, Demeter.

Because I was looking to the poem by Spencer as a model, I chose not to include any end punctuation, and I’m thinking of playing even a bit more with starting new sentences in the middle of a line which, when she does it, adds another level of disjointedness. Right now, it has a clear beginning and end, but it needs a little more work on the area right before the end. Here’s a couple lines from it I really like:

“I help him weave spider-spit, eyelash hair
He washes the sleep from the eyes of the souls
He lets them look on beauty
He lets them tell him they hate him”

The rest of the poem plays more with building a sense of tenderness for Hades. Hades was the most hated of the Gods. Achilles even said he was more willing to die a feudal slave than be king of the dead. His abduction of Persephone was the worst thing he did, but it also is a little understandable. He was completely alone in his dominion, and he wanted companionship. He did also allow his wife, once he abducted her and made her marry him, to see her mother for months out of the year, hence the reason for the seasons (Since Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, winter is when she is separated from her daughter. Summer and spring when she has her back.). He’s generally a pretty passive and lonely guy. The only time he ever really shows anger in the myths is when someone tries to take away his souls, which those silly heroes are always trying to do. I also in the latter part of the poem bring in some harvest imagery, since Persephone is the daughter of Demeter. Overall, I’m pretty pleased this draft. “The Vultures” that I drafted earlier this week felt too bare, which I hate when I draft. I didn’t even have a clear sense of its bones, which can be disappointing. Thankfully, this draft feels a lot stronger!

How is your 2012 writing going?

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