by Diane Fahey
Bellerophon overcame the Chimaera by flying above her on Pegasus' back, riddling her with arrows, and then thrusting between her jaws a lump of lead which he had fixed to the point of his spear. The Chimaera's fiery breath melted the lead, which trickled down her throat, searing her vitals … Bellerophon, at the height of his fortune, presumptuously undertook a flight to Olympus, as though he were an immortal; but Zeus sent a gadfly, which stung Pegasus under the tail, making him rear and fling Bellerophon ingloriously to earth.
— Robert Graves
The agèd woman, the foreigner,
sits beside the newborn. Not knowing
what she chants, the others are afraid.
If they knew — though it is terrible —
they would want it all to happen … Now
Bellerophon is wrapped in the shawl
she has been weaving in the courtyard
over many nights and days. Her voice
threads the silence. This is what she sings.
Murder of brother, stranger —
journey to a far kingdom.
Purified by Proētus;
cold sunlight rinses stained hands.
Desire takes hold of a queen —
death-letter signed by a king.
Another journey, kingdom;
nine oxen killed for feasting.
Death-letter opened at last…
guest fed news of Chimaera.
Pegasus comes from the gods;
swift flight to meet the monster.
A lead-tipped spear in its mouth:
lesions poisoning burning.
Princess, one half-kingdom, gained:
Never enough …
through clouds, far above death's thrall.
Plunge towards dispossession,
stricken years, an unmarked grave.
Only those blest by the gods
may know their furthest wrath.
‘Dying is easy — honour
the gifts,' sigh winds, grass, water.
Last updated August 18, 2022