Friday, June 24, 2005

Vitrea Circe

The name of Circe
Is wrongly branded
(Though Homer's verses
Portrayed her right)
By heavy-handed
And moral persons
Her danger bright.

She used not beauty
For man's beguiling,
She craved no suitor;
Sea-chances brought
To her forest-silent
And crimson-fruited
And snake-green island
Her guests unsought.

She watched those drunken
and tarry sailors
Eat nectar-junket
And Phoenix-nests;
Each moment paler
With pride, she shrunk at
Their leering, railing,
Salt-water jests.

They thought to pluck there
Her rosial splendour?
They thought their luck there
Was near divine?
When the meal ended
She rose and struck them
With wand extended
And made them swine.

With smiles and kisses
No man she tempted;
She scorned love's blisses
And toils, until
There came, undream't of,
The tough Ulysses,
From fate exempted
By Pallas' will.

Then flashed above her
(Poor kneeling Circe,
Her snares discovered)
The hero's blade.
She lay at mercy,
His slave, his lover,
forgot her curses,
Blushed like a maid.

She'd none to warn her.
He hacked and twisted
Her hedge so thorny;
It let him pass.
Her awful distance,
Her vestal scornings,
Were bright as crystals,
They broke like glass.

~C.S. Lewis, Poems (1st published June 23, 1948 in Punch)

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