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The Poets

April 25, 2009

Lethe (A Broken Sonnet)


HE EDGED carefully by foot Lethe’s deep
Where those who drank were oblivion fraught;
Unaware of the wake and far from sleep,
There inly arose this, his tempted thought:

What blissful state attends her solemn brook
Where with one single sip woes wash away-
And pain too, hidden pain, flushed from its nook-
If only by tasting I taste this day?
What harm could hither come to me by dream,
Or ill fate posit this slumbering night?

So he palmed lethal liquid from her stream
When just before the fatal sip, a sight!
There, etched into a whitened cypress tree,
Pale words: Before you drink, remember me.

-jwm


Of the Poem (A Note on Lethe):

Lethe (lee-thee) is the name of one of the Greek mythological rivers of the underworld. It is said that, after having passed on to that world, her waters were offered to those who wished to rid themselves of the memories of their former lives.

The obliteration of the memory of all past ills seems to have been the tempting factor of her waters; unfortunately, this obliteration included all good and joyful memories as well. Some seemed to have overlooked this crucial element.

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