**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Poem.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Complaint Of Ceres
by [?]

But, when the hours, in measured dance,
The happy smile of spring restore,
Rife in the sun-god’s golden glance
The buried dead revive once more!
The germs that perished to thine eyes,
Within the cold breast of the earth,
Spring up to bloom in gentler skies,
The brighter for the second birth!
The stem its blossom rears above–
Its roots in night’s dark womb repose–
The plant but by the equal love
Of light and darkness fostered–grows!

If half with death the germs may sleep,
Yet half with life they share the beams;
My heralds from the dreary deep,
Soft voices from the solemn streams,–
Like her, so them, awhile entombs,
Stern Orcus, in his dismal reign,
Yet spring sends forth their tender blooms
With such sweet messages again,
To tell,–how far from light above,
Where only mournful shadows meet,
Memory is still alive to love,
And still the faithful heart can beat!

Joy to ye children of the field!
Whose life each coming year renews,
To your sweet cups the heaven shall yield
The purest of its nectar-dews!
Steeped in the light’s resplendent streams,
The hues that streak the Iris-bow
Shall trim your blooms as with the beams
The looks of young Aurora know.
The budding life of happy spring,
The yellow autumn’s faded leaf,
Alike to gentle hearts shall bring
The symbols of my joy and grief.


[1] It may be scarcely necessary to treat, however briefly, of the mythological legend on which this exquisite elegy is founded; yet we venture to do so rather than that the forgetfulness of the reader should militate against his enjoyment of the poem. Proserpine, according to the Homeride (for the story is not without variations), when gathering flowers with the Ocean-Nymphs, is carried off by Aidoneus, or Pluto. Her mother, Ceres, wanders over the earth for her in vain, and refuses to return to heaven till her daughter is restored to her. Finally, Jupiter commissions Hermes to persuade Pluto to render up his bride, who rejoins Ceres at Eleusis. Unfortunately she has swallowed a pomegranate seed in the Shades below, and is thus mysteriously doomed to spend one-third of the year with her husband in Hades, though for the remainder of the year she is permitted to dwell with Ceres and the gods. This is one of the very few mythological fables of Greece which can be safely interpreted into an allegory. Proserpine denotes the seed-corn one-third of the year below the earth; two-thirds (that is, dating from the appearance of the ear) above it. Schiller has treated this story with admirable and artistic beauty; and, by an alteration in its symbolical character has preserved the pathos of the external narrative, and heightened the beauty of the interior meaning–associating the productive principle of the earth with the immortality of the soul. Proserpine here is not the symbol of the buried seed, but the buried seed is the symbol of her–that is, of the dead. The exquisite feeling of this poem consoled Schiller’s friend, Sophia La Roche, in her grief for her son’s death.

[2] What a beautiful vindication of the shortness of human life!