by Anne Hatzakis
Laughter-loving Aphrodite by Amanda Forrester
Golden-skinned, full-hipped, heavy-breasted
Dances and laughs, loves and eats, drinks and plays,
Among the Halls of the Gods
Our powerful Lady of Love is named as an Olympian
But in reality She is a Force far more primal
Than the civilized generation of Gods She among
For Her birth was part of the saga of creation
Born from sea-foam and blood form the severed manhood of Father Sky,
Thrown into the primordial ocean by Kronos
Aphrodite therefore is older than the King of the Gods
And indeed She moves Zeus as She will.
Arisen from the sea, She came to drive the world mad with lust
And turn one’s heart to another in partnership.
She causes animals to couple and so the flocks and herds to increase
Likewise She is the Hunger for union in the higher species
The drive to abandon the safety of isolation for the risk of heart-break,
In hopes of forming a new singular entity from two separate ones,
An equal partnership with the potential for increase.
Love is kindness, but not merely gentleness,
For Aphrodite has a steel core to Her,
Under the flowers, cheerfulness, and rosy cheeks.
Aphrodite is a Goddess of the harder lessons too, of “tough love”,
Not merely the fun roll in the hay.
She governs the first flirtations of love,
But also the stick-to-it-ativeness, the slow periods,
The intimate knowledge of a couple long together,
Who know each others every psychic crack and crevice,
As well as bodies well-loved and well-used.
A fiercer Goddess is She, too, than some may at first suspect
She dons golden armor to follow Ares into battle,
For Aphrodite understands the true value of a rare love
And will stop at nothing o protect Him.
So this is my hymn to the laughter-loving Goddess
Golden-skinned, wide-hipped, heavy-breasted —
But more than many may have supposed.
For Hera by Edward Butler
Poets can lie, enamored of their invention;
thus do I say that of no spite was Hephaistos born to you,
You created him alone, out of your own nature,
Like the first born of the cosmos.
How could anyone imagine it done for any but the highest purpose?
There are no jealous Gods.
But balance for Athena’s birth Olympian order did demand.
Far sighted Queen Hera envisioned through technology
The horizon itself expanding.
Hymn to Hera by Jennifer Savage
Hera in a bluster
Hera in a rain
Hera makes me happy
Like a candy cane.
Hera in a moonbeam
Hera in a star
Hera is a hopefulness
Sitting in my car.
Hera makes me happy
Going for a drive
Hera sings the dew drop
Hera is alive.
Wearing my raincoat
Boots on for a walk
Hera kicks my scarf out
Flying like a lark.
Hera is a sweetness
Hera walks alone
Hera is a kindness
That I have shown.
For Aphrodite by Neve
From your Sappho
flowed honeyed words
many of which
spoke in flowering terms
flowers and breezes
dewy banks of lotus
hyacinth on the mountain
violets in her lap
arms like roses
dawn with arms of rose
share in the roses
goatherd […] roses
I used to weave crowns
garlands made of flowers around your soft throat
gathering flowers so delicate a girl
oh for Adonis
Delicate Adonis is dying / What shall we do?
Strike yourself / maidens / and tear your garments
Oh may you grant
this humble poet
a tongue which
might sing such
words of sorrow
honey this tongue
that it might sing
of that ecstasy
yours which loves and suffers
loves in the gardens of Adonia
from beginning to end
like a rose
cut to whither
yet no less pungent
for the fact of its demise
let me be a voice
that informs of the dangers
gives fair warning
so we may knowingly
hazard that path regardless
up the mountain
where flowers are stompt and windswept
spare me not your initiations lady
that I may struggle
to speak the unspeakable
held in your mirror.
1 Translations of individual phrases taken from Anne Carson, as rendered in If Not, Winter
Prayer to Aphrodite
By G. Krasskova
Born of Power,
Rising jubilant from the sea-foam,
Cytherea, Cyprian, Queen,
I hail You.
Inciter to Lust,
Inciter to War,
All bow in time to Your power,
As Areia, You are fierce in battle.
As Pandemos, you are rich in praise.
As Ourania, You delight the Heavens.
In the mountains and by the sea
Your praises are sung,
and everywhere in between.
You, Golden One,
are the object of
for Gods and mortals alike.
Few can resist You,
Fewer wish to try.
Laughter-Loving Mother of desire,
Richly adorned, crowned, and beautiful,
I too will praise You always.
I too will not resist Your call.
Hail to You, Divine One,
May this prayer find favor
in Your eyes.
Ever may You be praised.
Ever may You inspire.
To Aphrodite by HeathenChinese
Aphrodite, when first I saw You
standing upon your scalloped pedestal,
powdered with rich pinks and dusty reds like sandstone,
ever-smiling, serene but not aloof,
borne reverently in the hands of Your priestess,
followed by a procession
of those who came to give You homage,
in that charged moment, that καιρός,
I became a multi-tradition polytheist,
I realized that ancestry is cultural,
and that relationship is everything.
I knew in that instant that Botticelli
saw a true vision,
that the Gods, and You especially,
are deathless indeed, that the Italian Renaissance
deserved its name and had no better σύμβολον
than Your own famous birth from the waves.
You answered my prayer that very evening,
though the possibility You opened my heart to
took years to realize, and was never inevitable
(for the tapestry woven by the Moirai shifts
by choice and chance and
in ways unknowable to mortals).
I knew Your awesome power at once,
I joyfully gave you and Hestia,
the hearth-tender of Your tribe,
the hospitality of my home,
a place within it that is still Yours,
I purified myself with glistening water,
I burned sweet myrrh and λιβανωτός for You,
and poured out sea-dark wine and prayers.
I learned to de-armor, piece by painful piece,
and open myself to Your blessings,
to cultivate right relationship
with the woman I love,
in all the realms
of the spirit which is part of the body
and the body which is part of the spirit.
This is not the first poem I’ve written for You,
nor the last, Golden One,
You who are accompanied by the Χάριτες,
Splendor and Joy and Abundance.
The offerings we give to the Gods, and to You especially,
from a simple grain of incense to glittering gemstones,
are objects of Beauty and acts of Love.
To sacrifice is to make sacred,
or perhaps more accurately for an animist,
to make the sacred explicit and exalted and paramount.
Beauty and Love are Yours already,
and reciprocal χάρις too,
but in their gifting and re-gifting,
they gain new stories with each transfer,
like a gold and silver wine bowl,
wrought by a divine smith,
father of the Kabeiroi,
handed from Sidonian host to Danaan guest,
and to another guest-friend in turn,
the great-grandson of the Wolf Himself,
the son of crafty Hermes.
In fulfillment of a vow,
wreathed with rose and ivy,
I gave You a dove
offered by the hands of a King,
witnessed by hopping sparrows,
by Your night-wandering star,
and by persimmon-fiery Helios,
blazing as Nyx baptized Him once again
in the sea whence You emerged
from severance and blood,
a tributary of Okeanos far from pacific.
Ally, as You were named
by both Sappho and the Mantineans,
no stranger to war and warriors,
for You I have fought, and will fight again,
in Your blessings I rejoice and give thanks,
to You I dedicate this poem,
these words that You have inspired,
just as You encourage the rose
to unfurl her crimson banners,
and the apple to ripen upon the branch,
and the clam to bring forth a σφαίρα,
iridescence from irritation,
Love from Strife.
You who set foot first on Cyprus,
where wildflowers sprang from the earth
to celebrate Your arrival,
I hail you now from California,
land of the Black pagan queen of Amazons,
who led man-slaughtering griffins in battle.
Grant to me that I may win this agon,
may my praises of You be acclaimed,
for Your immortal glory and honor.