A Harvest Ode

by Glen Martin Fitch

'Truly the blessèd gods have proclaimed a most beautiful secret death comes not as a curse but as a blessing to men' an Eleusinian epitaph


How long we waited watching every deed
So fearful of the failure of the seed.
We eyed our priest, 'Thrice-daring, the devout.'
To him She taught a simple farmer's creed;
The rite of burial for a puppet reed.
Yet memory of Her wrath increased our doubt
For once She brought us only cursèd drought.
Then nothing grew, no child, no sheaf, no weed.
This gift She gave all bounty to exceed.
At last we saw the long awaited sprout.


In sorrow we are born, that is our plight.
Yet soon our hearts grow light in warmth and love.
See with me now a bower domed above,
Therein a gray-eyed woman dressed in white
Receiving three red buds still folded tight.
Is She, who seems so regal yet so meek,
Not Demeter, the guardian of the Bride,
Now crowned of corn, green tresses o're each cheek?
The slender footed maiden at Her side?
'Tis Kore, whose new name we must never speak!


'Twas Kore's return that finally brought the Spring
For from their separate sorrow they unite.
No thought of past or future do They bring
Into the vale, where nymphs oft' hide at night
To hear the echo of Their laughter ring.
They walk about all morning hand in hand
And often do They o're a blossom stand
To whisper hints to aid the helpful bees
Or check the hue and scent of vines and trees,
Collecting dew from flowers o'er the land.


Here gathered at Eleusis once again
Let us now sing a song of thankful praise.
With life and growth She's blessed each citizen.
Accept the Kykeon cup and cake we raise.
These first fruits now we taste and are as one
And yet decay can never be o'er crossed.
The poison on our lips kills as the frost.
We see the longer shadows of the sun
And sadden, for the crane's flight has begun,
Remembering it was here that Kore was lost.


Here daughters of the tide and Kore were seen
At twilight all about the crags at play.
To harvest sweet Narcissus She did stray.
The Dark Lord rose and saw His future Queen!
'Twas then She felt a freezing grasp unseen.
Down darkened ways He made His chariot fly.
Kore cried, but soon fell in a deadly daze.
In vain Her mother searched the sea and sky;
Each bough She draped in sorrow's brilliant sprays
'Till veiled in black She stripped them with a cry!


When Demeter Her daughter's fate had learned
So strong Her wrath She made Olympus quake.
In Hades’ heart both love and anger burned;
The captive Kore lived for Her mother's sake;
How bitter grew His love when none returned!
He let Her free, but first His Queen to save
As token of His love, a pit He gave.
Her mother's joy was crushed when She was told
Of Hades’ gift. She knew that Kore was sold
Into a cycle, bound to be its slave.


Our fate? Decreed to rot our tale must tell
But maybe picked at prime. Yet think of She
Who sits beneath the barren olive tree
Where maidens come to linger o'er the well,
In endless joy and sorrow She must dwell.
And Kore, 'neath poplar white on bended knee
Who weeps into the Pool of Memory
While from a casement dark eyes sadly swell;
Yes She, the seed, whose path must always be
So like a mortal's but immortally.


Glen Martin Fitch's picture

Glen Fitch is a 16th Century poet lost in the 21st Century. Born near Niagara Falls, educated in the Catskills, thirty years on the Monterey Bay he now lives in Palm Springs. Retail not academics has paid the bills. Someday he will finish Spenser's "The Fairie Queene."

Last updated August 23, 2011