I love Greek and Roman mythology. They are the perfect amount of weird. It only takes me so long combing through the old stories to find something that strikes me.
Today’s is the “Rape of Europa”. Zeus fell in love with Europa and decided to disguise himself as a bull in her father’s herd. She saw him (as the bull) and decided to get on his back. He galloped away with her to the island of Crete, where he revealed his identity and they made sweet, sweet love.
What people usually don’t know is what happened after. Europa became the first Queen of Crete, and Zeus presented her with three gifts: Talos, Laelaps, and a javelin that never missed. Talos was a man made of bronze that flew around the island to protect her. Laelaps was a dog that always caught his prey.
So, this poem became another “letter” from Europa to Zeus after he left:
“I hear Talos lapping the island again.
Why bronze? Flint, spark. All the bush alight.”
Similar to “To Zeus, After the Swallowing,” I’m interested in this life after Zeus. He comes into these women’s lives and changes them remarkably, yet we never know what it’s like for these women. What it is like to be loved and left by a god, to be expected to marry a mortal and move on?
The rest of the poem, for the time being, explores that. It’s in a big block stanza, which may or may not stand. This poem needs some more conceptual framework. Sometimes, I have to build a world within a poem, and since I’m building a world for her on this island, I need to have a clearer idea of how it’s going to work. Right now, Laelaps catches quail for the suitors that have overrun the island hoping for her hand, and she is unable to make a decision on one, constantly comparing them, as mortals to an immortal, and as humans to a bull.
The last couple of poems I’ve written have felt really undone after this initial drafting process, which can be kind of disappointing, but I’m glad I’m putting something on the page that I can come back to when I have a clearer sense of where they need to go.
Happy summer writing! Man, it’s hard to force myself to sit in a chair when I could be frolicking outside.