Lesbos | Griselda Steiner | Scene4 Magazine | May 2016 |

Griselda Steiner

"Away! My weary soul hath sought

In vain one echoing sigh,

One answer to consuming thought In human hearts

- and will the wave reply?"

SAPPHO - Greek Poetess




(Inspired by Sappho)


How deep is hell

Where all secrets are stored

Like fertile pomegranate seeds

Ready to rise to the sun

And flower in the light of history


How deep is the sea

Thy dirge is my moaning

For the endless bodies

Pirated from crumbling homes

Buried in the Aegean cemetery


How deep is the debris

Mountains of red plastic

On your rugged hills and brush

Your spring narcissus trampled

By the feet of lost and mourning souls


Sappho's Isle - green sea jewel

Once pure as the poetess' love

Now a pyre waiting for the fire

To ignite the flower of evil.






Safe now. I've flown to you like a child to its mother.

SAPPHO - Greek Poetess



In the beginning, Demeter, sister of Zeus, lived with her young daughter, Persephone, in eternal happiness in summer sunshine. One day Persephone strayed from her mother enticed by the fragrance of a Narcissus flower. When she stooped down to pick it up a chasm split the ground asunder and Hades, Lord of the Underworld, abducted her. He descended with her in his Chariot to the deepest underworld where he made her his bride. Distraught after hearing Persephone's screams, Demeter left Olympus, home of the Gods and wandered the land as a mortal. Grieved by the separation, she abandoned her duties to the earth that became barren and lifeless. At last Zeus knew he must intervene. When he sent Hermes to fetch Persephone, she was wasting away. Before Persephone left him, Hades persuaded her to eat one pomegranate seed, knowing it meant she must return. Hermes ascended with her in his golden chariot and she was reunited with Demeter. Persephone, Maiden of the Spring, would live with Demeter for the eight warm months of the year when fields are flowering, but Demeter would lose her each year for the four months of winter.



"Persephone, on her part, when she saw the beautiful eyes of her mother, left the chariot and leaped down to run forward. She fell on Demeter's neck embracing her... Thus the whole day, in harmony of feeling, they greatly cheered each other's hearts and breasts, embracing each other. The spirit stopped its grieving. They gave and received joy from each other."


While mourning for Persephone, Demeter had left Olympus and wandered the earth as a mortal. Posing as a slave woman she sat by a well in Eleusis, a small town near Athens. Four young maidens took pity on her and invited her to their mother's house. When she entered Metaneira offered her barley water flavored with mint (draught of the harvest sacred to Eleusis). Metaneira left her to care for her son and secretly, Demeter, prepared him for eternal life by casting him into divine flames. One night the terrified Metaneira caught her and Demeter revealed her identity, but the boy lost the gift of immortality.


Eleusia became Demeter's sacred city where her rites, the Eleusian Mysteries were performed in her great temple. The symbol of initiation into Demeter's cult was an ear of sacred corn. The Thesmorphia, a fall harvest festival, was held in October; a ten day ritual celebrating the mysteries of death and rebirth. The first nine days were for purification in the form of fasting and bathing in holy water. Lanterns were lit to lighten Persephone's descent to the underworld. The rites ended with great feasting, giving of gifts of bouquets and the "Pouring of Plenty". The "Lesser Eleusia", a festival for Persephone's return was held in February, while "The Greater Eleusia" festival was celebrated in Greece every five years.

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Griselda Steiner is a poet, dramatist and a freelance writer and Senior Writer for Scene4.
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©2016 Griselda Steiner
©2016 Publication Scene4 Magazine



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