December 21, 2015

Sestina: Hades

There she was, playing with her friends,  
oblivious to all the evils in the world,
unaware that she was being watched by a cold
figure. Hard as stone
is what they call me, heartless as I am cruel, 
but not so cruel as to not let her finish her last necklace of seeds.

It was then that I took her, like the earth steals away seeds,
into a dark land where shadows and silence were her only friends. 
I must have seemed cruel
to surround her with reminders of her sunlit world,
rubies and sapphires flaming in her eyes, almost more than stone,
until she touched them and felt nothing but cold.

But that is precisely why I needed her. She alone could bring to this cold
fortress rays of joy and warmth. She could scatter seeds
of life among the breathless stone.
She could make friends
with the monster that carried her away from her innocent world,
and only her sweet innocence could forgive an act so cruel.

But the story has not yet started to be cruel.
After several months she began to ignore the cold
and saw what beauty there was in my bleak world.
Affection and pity had planted their seeds
and grown between us so that we were almost friends.
It was then that I truly resented my world of stone

and what I had become, hard and unfeeling as stone
itself, yet aware of how cruel
I was and that if we ever were to be true friends
I would have to let her return to her warmth and I to my cold.
She had planted seeds
of light that would forever grow in my world. 

And so I told her that I would let her go back and to forget this world,
to forget fires without warmth and men with hearts of stone,
to go back to her games and necklaces of seeds.
But sometimes stone is not so hard when nature itself is cruel
enough to tempt a girl into imprisoning herself forever in the cold
earth, far away from light and friends.

So were we friends or enemies, half trapped and half free in this world
of cold, unfeeling stone, 
and was it a sweet curse or a cruel blessing, that she ate the pomegranate seeds?


This is a quite a flashback! I wrote this sestina in my sophomore year of high school, after reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s telling of the myth of Pluto and Proserpina. It’s quite rough, and it’s easy to see the repetition of the six words over and over. If you read my next sestina, “After the Fall”, (which I wrote just one year later) you can see a lot of progress. Still, I don’t think “Hades” is half bad for a first attempt!

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