The Bear-Guard, Arctophylax

The Bear Guard, born the son of Zeus, who took
Callisto when from heaven he did look;
The king beheld her beauty and did sate
Himself and made her for a time his mate;
His son was murdered to revenge the deed:
His grandsire thought some mischief good to breed.
Callisto was his daughter, and he sought
Revenge, conceiving in his heart a thought,
Which he brought forth and took his grandson’s life,
And trimmed him for the table with his knife.
To see if Zeus knew all, he called him there,
And set a lavish table in his lair:
But Zeus was wroth, for when he saw the meat,
He knew Lycaon guilty of deceit,
And in his rage he overturned the board,
And promptly to his former form restored
His son and placed him in a goat herd’s care,
And when he grew he went to hunt a bear,
Not knowing that his mother had exchanged
Her human form, and to the bear been changed.
He overstepped the temple’s boundary,
A crime which carried a death penalty:
But Zeus, he snatched them up into the sky
In order that they’d live and never die;
He placed his son in heaven with the Bear
To guard and make it his eternal care.
So, Arctophylax, Bear-Guard he was called,
When in the heavens he had been installed.
But lightning struck Lycaon’s house when Zeus
Hurled down his bolt, revenging the abuse.
He turned Lycaon to a wolf to feast
On flesh to be thenceforth a savage beast.

Corona Borealis

The crown that Dionysus placed among
The stars of heaven when the world was young,
For Aphrodite and the Seasons thought
His bride deserving, so a gift they brought
To Ariadne on his wedding day;
In heaven did the god this crown display.
And one there is that said the god desired
Ariadne, and with the crown inspired
Her love, when he came down to see her sire,
For it was lightened by a holy fire
Which burned within, so it gave off a light,
Which was most pleasing in the damsel’s sight.
Hephaistos made it greater than its parts,
A dazzling work from all his cunning arts.
Again some men have said Dionysus took
And set it by, because he would not brook
Pollution of it by the hordes of dead
In Tartarus where all is grim and dread.
For he went down to bring his mother back,
And this accomplished, the god did not slack
To place it in the stars, eternally
Reminding all who see of Semele.
But finally, there’s some who say it’s there
Because the Kneeler, Theseus did wear
It, having got it from Thetis when he
Retrieved the ring of Minos from the sea.
He showed himself in truth Poseidon’s son,
When this tremendous task by him was done.
For though the tyrant Minos set his heart
On a damsel from Athens for his part,
Yet Theseus against the tyrant rose,
But said it was not fitting to oppose
A tyrant merely to defend a girl,
And so into the sea did Minos hurl
His ring to test the claim of the noble youth,
To prove if he was the god’s son in truth.
Poseidon’s wife gave Theseus the prize,
The crown to dazzle all beholding eyes.
And still it sits in heaven as a sign
Of triumph, truth, and all that’s good and fine.