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Homage to Homeric Hymn to Dionysus 7

BEFORE YOU READ: The dithyramb you are to read is composed by Jim Khan, a renowned poet from England. You can purchase his latest book of poetry by clicking on the cover image of the book underneath. The proceeds from the sales of the book will directly go to a UK Housing Charity.

Lyrae and Cygnus sojourn to Parnassus, obscured by Phaedriades mountains,
Karpo cavorting as tributes of harvest adorn the Castalian fountains,
Pythian prophesies pause as Thyiades’ naked announcement entices,
Delphic endorphins induce an arousal to herald the great Dionysus,
Stand and rejoice in nocturnal surrender,
Flesh, like the vine is inviting and tender,
Fill at your will and delight as you swallow,
Verses are heard and enchantment will follow.

Bring the amphora of Pramnian oinos and hear this elaborate paean,
Picture the moment, the young Dionysus; the shores of the restless Aegean,
Children of Ailos pander with breezes that tickle his tresses so gaily,
Chiselled, his contours; Olympian craftwork of Zeus and his mistress, Semele,
Cloaked in the colours of Tyrian purple,
Scent of the grapevines, so honeyed and herbal,
God of fertility, wine and excitement,
Woe to the ones who incur his indictment.

Look to the east, to the symbols of destiny drawn on Tyrrhenian bunting,
Pirates approaching, rapaciously scavenging; eager for something worth hunting,
Seeing the sight of the youthful immortal they roar and express their elation,
Truly the gods must have favour for sons of the mighty Etrurian nation,
Brought to a landing and leaping like fishes,
Seizing their hostage, their motives auspicious,
Beauty so boundless, a body so healthy
Signals the son of a kingdom so wealthy.

“Tie him in bondage!” the Captain commands as his captive is dragged on the vessel,
“Tie him up harshly!” he adds with contempt as his crewmen knot rope to a trestle,
Deftly they try with experienced fingers but tethers just fall from their quarry,
Fearful, the helmsman sees something amiss and assures that his mates will be sorry:
“What are you thinking?!” he yells to the seamen,
“Madness is in you like some sort of demon!”
“Look how he’s smiling, no pleas and no whimpers!”
“Surely you see he’s the child of Olympus?!”

“See how the bindings just fall off his body; the knots you secure simply widen!”
“What have you captured but Zeus or Apollon or even the mighty Poseidon?!”
“Trust me, my brothers; return to the land and release this divine apparition”
“Ships such as these cannot hold such a being, you must stop and abandon this mission!”
“What if he conjures the rain and the thunder?!”
“Raises a whirlwind to tear us asunder?!”
Over the crew falls a tentative silence,
Weighing the odds of ethereal violence.

“Quiet, you helmsman and back to your station!” the Captain replies in his fury,
“You are the one who’s possessed by a demon; my men have no time for your story!”
“Look at this stripling, this ticket to fortune; he stands there in blue-eyed defiance”
“Cyprus or Egypt, he’ll sell or perhaps to the huge Hyperborean giants!”
“Soon he’ll start squeaking and give us confessions”
“Give up locations of family possessions”
“Demons have placed him…or maybe it’s witches”
“Right in our path as a means to find riches!”

Spurred by conviction the Captain himself takes the ropes of the backstay and braces,
Hoisting the sails as his crewmen step back with a look of surprise on their faces,
Suddenly winds unannounced blow immensely; the breath of a hurricane’s greeting,
Desperately pirates take hold of the lines as the powerful force stretches sheeting,
Shouts from the sailors as rigging grows tauter
Turn to amazement as eyes fall on water,
Under the vessel, instead of the ocean-
Wine like the sweetest, ambrosial potion!

All along woodwork, consuming the mast an abundance of grapevine invading,
Threading itself along oars, along benches the garlands appearing like braiding,
Over the head of the debonair deity, bunches of grapes start to flower,
Succulent, red and the ripest of berries; a symbol of heavenly power,
Stricken by panic each traumatised sailor
Shouts to the helmsman, their skin growing paler:
“Back to the land! Steer us back on the double!”
“Take us, we beg for we don’t want this trouble!”

Now comes the wrath of the angered immortal, deceptively fair in his features,
Shifting his form the enraged Dionysus becomes the most feared of creatures,
Under the gaze of celestial Sirius, close to the fallen Orion
Sits the impossible, terrible presence of that which resembles a lion,
Roaring and gnashing its wicked incisors,
Men scream a pitch that continually rises,
Terror has gripped them, the realisation;
This is reward for their coarse indignation.

Never the god to forgive and forget, Dionysus increases the pressure
Conjuring up a gigantic companion, a bear of prodigious measure,
Stood in the middle of terrified pirates, the grizzly inclusion strikes panic,
Horror erupts and the pirates run screaming; the mood of the moment now manic,
Crowding the helmsman they gather there, weeping
Stricken they watch as the lion starts leaping,
Seizing the Captain and eating his liver,
Blood like a wine, it cascades in a river.

Destiny brings the felicitous ending; prophetic, a fate of such beauty,
Faced with the prospect of death so distressing the pirates abandon their duty,
Diving in droves to the freedom of oceans they seek to escape Dionysus,
Nothing can save them, indebted by ignorance; paying the highest of prices,
No-one remains to give competent orders,
Over the railings jump desperate marauders,
Splash!- as their bodies submerge they transition,
Turned into dolphins to pay their contrition.

Just as the helmsman assumes his position to sacrifice life with his brothers
Hands on his tunic prevent his withdrawal; his life is worth more than the others,
“Stay with me, sailor, you radiant man!” says the god in his form as a human,
“Drink of this wine, you respect the divine and are nothing at all like those crewmen!”
“Gifts you have given me; beauty and pleasure”
“Life is reward to you, blessed is your treasure”
“Know of my name and then worship me, servile”
“Great Dionysus, the lord of the fertile!”

Bowing the helmsman imbibes from a goblet and speaks in a reverent language:
“Child of Olympus, of Zeus and Semele; I knew you would bring them this anguish!”
“Take all the pleasure you rightly deserve and permit me to join celebrations”
“Singing your name and recounting your deeds in a song that will span all our nations”
“Hail to the host of ecstatic reflection”
“Carved in the image of godly perfection”
“How could my mind be apart from your presence?”
“Lord of the vine and divinity’s essence.”

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