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

Phaëthon (the Boy)
Tangles in Moira’s Net

Too soon the baby’s grim fate appeared
to Grandfather Oceanus as he tossed the child
high over swells, tumbling him in play.

An omen: Phaëthon plummeted into riptides,
rehearsing his final plunge and drowning—saved
now by Oceanus from being swept under.

Grasping, the grandsire protected Phaëthon
from gravity’s law, although he grieved to see
foreshadowing of Phaëthon’s prophesized death.

Phaëthon’s mother watched the boy’s splashes,
happy with his exuberance, not knowing
a knife too soon would pierce her heart in grief.

The willful boy explored his mother’s household.
When still a child he traveled to Sicily
to visit vineyards and cattle of his sun god father.

There the boy made a horsewhip of willows,
crafted a garland star, and carved a toy chariot.
He fastened torches to his head in play.

When barely a man he pined for a man’s power.
He handled his father’s horses and the whip.
He begged his sun god father, cajoled, and wept.

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