Thursday, 13 September 2012

Delos: Temple precincts

Stepping lightly on delicate white feet
The seven voluptuaries of Aphrodite
Entered the marble floored aulum
Bearing onyx kraters of kolliva
Thrice they circled the statue of their goddess
Then placed their offering on her altar
And melted into the shadowed depths of the temple;
Unnoticed I watched as the temple guardian limped to the altar
And dipped his gnarled hand into a krater
Then ate of the food of the dead
Before placing a few grains of
Stewed wheat and pomegranate seeds
In the mouth of the statue of the bright
Foam-given daughter of Chronos;
Then he drank deeply from the
Silver kuathos of resined wine
And spake words of prophesy

O ye men of Delos
Softened like beeswax
Leave your ladies' pleasure gardens
And boys' bedrooms
Bind your thews
Raise the war shield
And grasp your spears
For the ships of Sparta
Are ploughing the wine dark sea
To take our island
And violate the sanctuary of
The clear browed foam-given

Two of the voluptuaries led him
Out of the sanctuary and I followed them
Onto the temple belvedere;
I sounded the tocsin with three blasts
On the sacred conch
Then I slew the priest
With his golden labrys
And performed the rites of Aphrodite
With her handmaidens

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