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

(Hermes/Mercury’s) (Re/)

Now to Dionysus, alone among barren rocks,
comes his brother the glistening traveler Hermes
silvery from sky’s cirrus frost. “Zeus sends me,”

he says. “Let me interpret your father’s augury.”
As he speaks Dionysus recalls the eclipse—
shining day blotted the color of blackest caverns.

Hermes holds the shaken man’s shoulders a moment,
says, “You will win the Indian War.” And again,
“You will win. You are the rising sun who returns.

Not the tragic child Phaëthon, who flogged horses
across the heavens so fast the firmament capsized
and the boy, like your omen’s snake, fell into water.”

Dionysus replies, “Say more about Phaëthon
whose sisters still line the riverbanks and weep,
turned into bowed-down willows with teardrop leaves.”

return to top