new zealand electronic poetry centre


Robin Hyde

Persephone in Winter

The valleys, splendid as her womb,
Put forth their sons, the olive trees,
Their daughter wheat, with russet veil
Of hair resplendent to her knees.

Ever athirst, ever withheld
From the strong throes that yield up Life,
The desert shimmers in the noon,
The land named Sarah, Abramís wife;

And from her sand-dunes, tautly strung
As some great harpís unmastered chord,
Moans the harsh passion-music, wrung
In drops of blood, to please the Lord.

Where won by moisture other earth
Knits under grass to kindly clod,
My every sand-grain separate shines,
A burning-glass to draw down God,

That I may feel His lean flames run
Beneath my breasts, between my flanks,
And all the dark disturbed in me
Find voice at last, and shout Him thanks.

But great as cloud and kind as vale
Hagar moves ever in my sight ó
The dark, unvext and simple loam
In which men sow their race aright;

Ploughman and harvester in turn
Have shared her wealth since time began,
And from her breasts the rivers run
That comfort still the child in man.

A curse on yeanling lambs, on foals
Like wind-gusts sheathed in sorrel silk,
On heady clover, perfuming
The deep old udders dropping milk.

For locked within her, Abramís dream
Unfolds its limbs, grows fierce and tall;
And of her passive flesh he makes
His heir, the individual.

Ah, let Thy livid torrents slake
The land named Sarah! . . . Let some wild
Eclipse of reason build in me
The overthrow of Hagarís child.


Last updated 21 September, 2003