<Previous      Next>
from “The Witch,” Idylls II


“—Where’re the bay leaves? Grab them, Thessi.
And where’s my love tonic?  Wreathe the cauldron
with scarlet-dyed ram’s wool since with this fire
I’ll bewitch my cruel lover, who’s not dropped by
my house in twelve unending days, the prick.
Ignorant of whether I’m living or already dead,
he hasn’t knocked on my door, that incorrigible man.
Eros and Aphrodite must’ve sparked the flame
for another maiden, kindling his whimsical heart.

In the morning, I’ll march to Timagetus’s gym
where I’ll confront him for  grieving my mind like this.
But now, I’ll scorch him with my dark fire charms.

Radiant Moon, haunt us:  for to you, phantom,
I chant my soft spells, and to Hekate of the earth,
who, striding from tombs and black blood of the dead,
makes dogs bristle and whine.  Hail, dread Hekate,
follow me till the end—and imbue these incantations
not less than Circe’s, Medea’s, or blonde Permedeae’s.

Spin my man, jinxed wheel, spin my man back home.

First, barley-heads should smolder in the embers. 
Toss them on, Thess.  Fool, where’s your mind wandering?
You think this a farce, intolerable girl, and me, a jest!  
Toss them on now, reciting ‘I spread Delphis’s bones.’

Spin my man, jinxed wheel, spin my man back home.

Delphis has stung me.  Against him, I light these bays.
As the leaves flare suddenly into crackling flame
so we can’t even make out their ashes beneath the glow,
thus Delphis’s flesh should wither in a searing blaze.

Spin my man, jinxed wheel, spin my man back home.

Next I’ll burn corn husks:  Artemis, you can command
the black, adamantine gates of Hades  and all unyielding—
—hush.  Thess, the dogs growl and yelp through town.
The goddess is in the crossroads—quick! Send her off!

Spin my man, jinxed wheel, spin my man back home.

Here, the sea’s smooth.  The soft breezes are quelled
—but this rage gripping my heart will not wane away.
A black frenzy seethes in my marrow at that man,
that bastard who took me not as his wife—but took me.

Spin my man, jinxed wheel, spin my man back home.

Just as channeling the goddess, I melt this wax doll,
so may Delphis of Myndus grow languid in his desire.
As Aphrodite herself whirls the bronze bull-roarer,
so may he turn himself, witless, before these doors.

Spin my man, jinxed wheel, spin my man back home.

I pour three libations, Mistress.  Three times I chant,
‘Whether a woman or man rests warm beside him now,
may he utterly forget them so much as on Dia isle
they say Theseus forgot the sleek-haired Ariadne!’

Spin my man, jinxed wheel, spin my man back home.

Coltsfoot’s a rare weed in Arcadia that deranges
foals and their swift mares tearing over the broad hills.
Just so may I see Delphis, oil-slicked from the gym,
roused like them, forcing himself through my gates.


*


πᾷ μοι ταὶ δάφναι; φέρε Θεστυλί: πᾷ δὲ τὰ φίλτρα;
στέψον τὰν κελέβαν φοινικέῳ οἰὸς ἀώτῳ,
ὡς τὸν ἐμὸν βαρὺν εὖντα φίλον καταθύσομαι ἄνδρα,
ὅς μοι δωδεκαταῖος ἀφ᾽ ὧ τάλας οὐδέποθ᾽ ἵκει,
οὐδ᾽ ἔγνω πότερον τεθνάκαμες ἢ ζοοὶ εἰμές.
οὐδὲ θύρας ἄραξεν ἀνάρσιος. ἦ ῥά οἱ ἀλλᾷ
ᾤχετ᾽ ἔχων ὅ τ᾽ ῎Ερως ταχινὰς φρένας ἅ τ᾽ ᾿Αφροδίτα;
βασεῦμαι ποτὶ τὰν Τιμαγήτοιο παλαίστραν
αὔριον, ὥς νιν ἴδω, καὶ μέμψομαι οἷά με ποιεῖ.
νῦν δέ νιν ἐκ θυέων καταθύσομαι. ἀλλὰ Σελάνα,
φαῖνε καλόν: τὶν γὰρ ποταείσομαι ἅσυχα, δαῖμον,
τᾷ χθονίᾳ θ᾽ ῾Εκάτα, τὰν καὶ σκύλακες τρομέοντι
ἐρχομέναν νεκύων ἀνά τ᾽ ἠρία καὶ μέλαν αἷμα.
χαῖρ᾽ ῾Εκάτα δασπλῆτι, καὶ ἐς τέλος ἄμμιν ὀπάδει.
φάρμακα ταῦτ᾽ ἔρδοισα χερείονα μήτέ τι Κίρκης
μήτέ τι Μηδείας μήτε ξανθᾶς Περιμήδας.
῏Ιυγξ, ἕλκε τὺ τῆνον ἐμὸν ποτὶ δῶμα τὸν ἄνδρα.
ἄλφιτά τοι πρᾶτον πυρὶ τάκεται: ἀλλ᾽ ἐπίπασσε
Θεστυλί. δειλαία, πᾷ τὰς φρένας ἐκπεπότασαι;
ἦ ῥά γε τρισμυσαρὰ καὶ τὶν ἐπίχαρμα τέτυγμαι;
πάσσ᾽ ἅμα καὶ λέγε ταῦτα: ‘τὰ Δέλφιδος ὀστία πάσσω.’
ἶυγξ, ἕλκε τὺ τῆνον ἐμὸν ποτὶ δῶμα τὸν ἄνδρα.
Δέλφις ἔμ᾽ ἀνίασεν: ἐγὼ δ᾽ ἐπὶ Δέλφιδι δάφναν
αἴθω: χὡς αὕτα λακεῖ μέγα καππυρίσασα
κἠξαπίνας ἅφθη, κοὐδὲ σποδὸν εἴδομες αὐτᾶς,
οὕτω τοι καὶ Δέλφις ἐνὶ φλογὶ σάρκ᾽ ἀμαθύνοι.
ἶυγξ, ἕλκε τὺ τῆνον ἐμὸν ποτὶ δῶμα τὸν ἄνδρα.
ὡς τοῦτον τὸν κηρὸν ἐγὼ σὺν δαίμονι τάκω,
ὣς τάκοιθ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἔρωτος ὁ Μύνδιος αὐτίκα Δέλφις.
χὡς δινεῖθ᾽ ὅδε ῥόμβος ὁ χάλκεος ἐξ ᾿Αφροδίτας,
ὣς τῆνος δινοῖτο ποθ᾽ ἁμετέραισι θύραισιν.
ἶυγξ, ἕλκε τὺ τῆνον ἐμὸν ποτὶ δῶμα τὸν ἄνδρα.
νῦν θυσῶ τὰ πίτυρα. τὺ δ᾽ ῎Αρτεμι καὶ τὸν ἐν ῞Αιδα
κινήσαις ἀδάμαντα καὶ εἴ τί περ ἀσφαλὲς ἄλλο.
Θεστυλί, ταὶ κύνες ἄμμιν ἀνὰ πτόλιν ὠρύονται.
ἁ θεὸς ἐν τριόδοισι: τὸ χαλκίον ὡς τάχος ἄχει.
ἶυγξ, ἕλκε τὺ τῆνον ἐμὸν ποτὶ δῶμα τὸν ἄνδρα.
ἠνίδε σιγῇ μὲν πόντος, σιγῶντι δ᾽ ἀῆται:
ἁ δ᾽ ἐμὰ οὐ σιγῇ στέρνων ἔντοσθεν ἀνία,
ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ τήνῳ πᾶσα καταίθομαι, ὅς με τάλαιναν
ἀντὶ γυναικὸς ἔθηκε κακὰν καὶ ἀπάρθενον ἦμεν.
ἶυγξ, ἕλκε τὺ τῆνον ἐμὸν ποτὶ δῶμα τὸν ἄνδρα.
ἐς τρὶς ἀποσπένδω καὶ τρὶς τάδε πότνια φωνέω:
εἴτε γυνὰ τήνῳ παρακέκλιται εἴτε καὶ ἀνήρ,
τόσσον ἔχοι λάθας, ὅσσόν ποκα Θησέα φαντὶ
ἐν Δίᾳ λασθῆμεν ἐυπλοκάμω ᾿Αριάδνας.
ἶυγξ, ἕλκε τὺ τῆνον ἐμὸν ποτὶ δῶμα τὸν ἄνδρα.
ἱππομανὲς φυτόν ἐστι παρ᾽ ᾿Αρκάσι: τῷ δ᾽ ἐπὶ πᾶσαι
καὶ πῶλοι μαίνονται ἀν᾽ ὤρεα καὶ θοαὶ ἵπποι.
ὣς καὶ Δέλφιν ἴδοιμι, καὶ ἐς τόδε δῶμα περάσαι
μαινομένῳ ἴκελος λιπαρᾶς ἔκτοσθε παλαίστρας.