new zealand electronic poetry centre


Mary Stanley

online works


Death of Procris

Procris is dead; loving too much
is slain at last by her excess.
Crouched in her bush she hung her heart
on thorns more keen to pierce her hurt.
What bird has clawed her breast or fire
sharpened to fever her desire?
Now she is still, her silence part
of that still landscape delicate
as glass. Her fallen head is laid
among the flowers and drop by red
drop the little wound has wept
her grief away. This marble sleep
has calmed the jealous blood that cried
‘Husband, ah faithless who denied
the gentle burden of my love.’
The satyr-husband leans above
his kill, puts out a hand to touch
her quiet limbs. Will pity teach
his eye what tears the nymph has shed
for him who cannot mourn her dead?
He is by nature shaped to kill
and she to love, so both fulfil
the antique pattern laid on man
and woman since the world began.


© Mary Stanley

Last updated November 26, 2002