The Transformations of Dionysus

Dionysus, free son of Zeus,
From every shackle was cut loose.
The unhinged fury of the god
Brought down on Pentheus the rod;
The mortal soul who tried to peep
Was found and Maenads, then, did leap
On him and tore him limb from limb,
With fury putting end to him:
Thus Pentheus fulfilled his course,
And was destroyed with violent force;
The god also of drunken fits,
He too was torn to little bits.
His body lost, Zeus took his heart,
And in a drink, he gave this part
To Semele, who pleased the king
Of heaven, but did Juno bring
Her wrath on her; she gained her trust,
Encouraging the mortal’s lust,
She caused Semele to beseech
The king of heaven with her speech,
To know his full divinity,
She asked in her simplicity.
But she could not withstand the king,
So she was slain by his lightning.
But Bacchus bore she in her womb;
The drink Zeus gave her made her bloom:
The former heart had formed the child,
A second time to birth the wild.
So Zeus sowed Bacchus in his thigh,
That his own son would not then die;
He carried him, till he was born,
That god whom Pentheus would scorn.
He rendered what he underwent,
But he, divine, could not be rent
Asunder wholly, for his soul
Was ever living, ever whole.

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