The swan of heaven, we could but call it Zeus,
For in this form, he acted out a ruse;
And Nemesis was fooled, and thought to save
Him from the eagle’s grasp, and thus, the grave.
But, the bird of prey was the goddess of
Tyranny itself, that is to say, of Love:
Aphrodite chased the king of heaven,
And in her lap Nemesis made a haven,
And Zeus as Cygnus settled there, until
She fell asleep, and then he took his fill;
The rape accomplished, he flew to the sky;
And so that none might say it was a lie,
He placed a swan of stars to fly at night,
Eternally to show itself in flight.
But Nemesis brought forth an egg, whose yolk
In time grew up, and by her beauty broke
That city, which was most renowned in fame,
But luxury had made it weak and tame;
For Helen brought about the fall of Troy
(How often Venus’ charms weaken and destroy!).
By Zeus, in eastern skies the Bird remains,
A nightly sight to all the rustic swains.
Night, mother goddess of both Space and Day,
And birthed from Chaos, first that e’er held sway.
You hound the dusk and banish Day below,
Until the Dawn returns with rosy glow.
Your reign is greatest in the winter time;
You conquer and your triumph is sublime.
The scorching heat of summer you relieve;
In your embrace the weary find reprieve.
Your children, Sleep and Death, are comfort to
The soul whose work, whose day, whose life is through.
The horses of your chariot are black,
And darkness is your shield from all attack.
In you the truth is hidden from the sight,
And none can wrest it from you by their might.
Though many fear, in you no fright is found
But quiet, peace, and wisdom all abound.
Hail Mars, War’s triumphant God,
Who storms through all the host,
Who makes the shout and clamour
Of battle his own boast.
With spear and shield he thunders,
And all the earth does shake;
And where he goes there follows
Grim Terror in his wake.
He drives his car and slaughters,
Until the field is red
And rushing like Scamander
From fallen foes who’ve bled;
Their wounds like springing fountains
Gush forth a purple stream,
While Mars filled full of fury
Gives out a howling scream.
Who wins the field is favoured
By Mars; he beats his foes,
Until they fall down battered
Bruised by his crushing blows.
Cassiopeia, queen whose awful boast
Brought Poseidon’s wrath up on all the coast;
For she was vain, and thought herself supreme,
And in her fancy, her fictitious dream
She took for truth, declaring she was best
In beauty; and for this the god distressed
The nation, but with all the others she
Was placed in heaven for all mankind to see.
When Archer rises, then she does the same,
And sets when Scorpion rises. But her shame,
It still remains: Zeus set her upside down;
For on her pride, the God did rightly frown:
So she revolves head downwards for all time
To mark her folly, and shame her for her crime.
Athena, goddess who sprang from the mind
Of Zeus, in whom all wisdom is refined,
In whom perfection of all things is found,
Who makes all heaven by his will move round,
She placed Andromeda on high to show
The deeds of Perseus, when he dwelt below.
With arms outstretched, Andromeda appears,
As though the serpent still its head uprears;
From this did Perseus deliver her,
And after this her woman’s will did spur
Her to abandon father, mother, home,
And to set off with Perseus to roam
The earth with him, wherever he did lead,
Though her father and mother both did plead
That she should stay with them: but she refused;
For by their weakness she had been abused.
‘Gainst the Nereids did her mother boast,
And so the serpent had ravaged their coast;
Her father being weak declined to fight,
Nor would he punish his wife for her slight.
But he determined his posterity
He’d sacrifice to the monster of the sea.
The hero saved Andromeda by force,
And so, she wisely chose the stronger horse.
In heaven she was placed to mark these deeds,
And he who would be wise all heaven heeds;
For, by the gods is written in the sky
The wisdom by which all ascend on high.
How Perseus among the stars was placed,
That all his tale might never be erased,
Endeavour we to tell and make it plain:
Zeus placed him there, for heaven’s his domain.
Gorgon Medusa’s head is in his hand,
The sight of which no mortal man could stand;
For man to see it bore a dreadful cost,
Who’er beheld it turned to stone and lost
His life. The Gorgons’ guards had but one eye,
They passed about, and when the time was nigh
For one to pass it to the next the son
Of Zeus, he seized it, and then not a one
Could see him, for he hurled the orb into
The Lake Tritonis, then breached the guard and slew
Medusa with the sickle he received
From Hephaistos; the Gorgon was relieved
Of her head, but her face pointed away.
He then departed thence without delay.
The Grey Sisters, having lost their eye, were blind
And could not hinder or their own way find.
Upon his feet Perseus wore the gift
He got from Hermes, shoes exceeding swift.
Gorgon Medusa’s head was later pressed
By Athena on to her godly breast.
But Perseus, he rises with the Bull
And Ram, and he sets when his time is full
And when the Archer and Capricorn rise,
Fulfilling the years in the nightly skies.