Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3
an online journal of literature and the arts
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translation from Homeric Greek by Denise Low

Helios Explains (Sequential)

Helios continued his advice, “Phaëthon,
listen. Begin in Aries, the Ram. Zephyrs
christen land with warm winds and rain.

Fork-tailed swallows mate. Days stretch
longer. My beams of light strike wet fields
with life’s fire. Grapes and barley swell.

At summer’s height, Cancer the Crab reddens.
Then comes lesser light and the leaves shake.
Libra’s scale of light and dark hangs balanced.

Winter comes last, with Capricorn, a mermaid-goat
creature of dark months. Storms rinse sins
of the year away. Midnight lasts for hours.”

Phaëthon kept quiet but gazed away, starward.
“The year must follow this sequence,” Helios said.
“Each day I cross the Zodiac in this order

or chaos would arise.” But he saw the boy only
desired the golden helmet with seven rays.
He only desired the blazing horses of ecstasy.

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