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The Eleusinian Festival
by [?]


Wreathe in a garland the corn’s golden ear!
With it, the Cyane [1] blue intertwine
Rapture must render each glance bright and clear,
For the great queen is approaching her shrine,–
She who compels lawless passions to cease,
Who to link man with his fellow has come,
And into firm habitations of peace
Changed the rude tents’ ever-wandering home.

Shyly in the mountain-cleft
Was the Troglodyte concealed;
And the roving Nomad left,
Desert lying, each broad field.
With the javelin, with the bow,
Strode the hunter through the land;
To the hapless stranger woe,
Billow-cast on that wild strand!

When, in her sad wanderings lost,
Seeking traces of her child,
Ceres hailed the dreary coast,
Ah, no verdant plain then smiled!
That she here with trust may stay,
None vouchsafes a sheltering roof;
Not a temple’s columns gay
Give of godlike worship proof.

Fruit of no propitious ear
Bids her to the pure feast fly;
On the ghastly altars here
Human bones alone e’er dry.
Far as she might onward rove,
Misery found she still in all,
And within her soul of love,
Sorrowed she o’er man’s deep fall.

“Is it thus I find the man
To whom we our image lend,
Whose fair limbs of noble span
Upward towards the heavens ascend?
Laid we not before his feet
Earth’s unbounded godlike womb?
Yet upon his kingly seat
Wanders he without a home?”

“Does no god compassion feel?
Will none of the blissful race,
With an arm of miracle,
Raise him from his deep disgrace?
In the heights where rapture reigns
Pangs of others ne’er can move;
Yet man’s anguish and man’s pains
My tormented heart must prove.”

“So that a man a man may be,
Let him make an endless bond
With the kind earth trustingly,
Who is ever good and fond
To revere the law of time,
And the moon’s melodious song
Who, with silent step sublime,
Move their sacred course along.”

And she softly parts the cloud
That conceals her from the sight;
Sudden, in the savage crowd,
Stands she, as a goddess bright.
There she finds the concourse rude
In their glad feast revelling,
And the chalice filled with blood
As a sacrifice they bring.

But she turns her face away,
Horror-struck, and speaks the while
“Bloody tiger-feasts ne’er may
Of a god the lips defile,
He needs victims free from stain,
Fruits matured by autumn’s sun;
With the pure gifts of the plain
Honored is the Holy One!”

And she takes the heavy shaft
From the hunter’s cruel hand;
With the murderous weapon’s haft
Furrowing the light-strown sand,–
Takes from out her garland’s crown,
Filled with life, one single grain,
Sinks it in the furrow down,
And the germ soon swells amain.

And the green stalks gracefully
Shoot, ere long, the ground above,
And, as far as eye can see,
Waves it like a golden grove.
With her smile the earth she cheers,
Binds the earliest sheaves so fair,
As her hearth the landmark rears,–
And the goddess breathes this prayer:

“Father Zeus, who reign’st o’er all
That in ether’s mansions dwell,
Let a sign from thee now fall
That thou lov’st this offering well!
And from the unhappy crowd
That, as yet, has ne’er known thee,
Take away the eye’s dark cloud,
Showing them their deity!”

Zeus, upon his lofty throne,
Harkens to his sister’s prayer;
From the blue heights thundering down,
Hurls his forked lightning there,
Crackling, it begins to blaze,
From the altar whirling bounds,–
And his swift-winged eagle plays
High above in circling rounds.