Venus and Adonis: A Rewrite
The sun, with all its bruised even’ light,
Had slipped from out the firmament’s blue hold,
And I, red-faced, and running from the night,
Tried to ensnare a boar worth more than gold;
But there was Venus, drawing painful near
Like a hot ghost or shadow in the clear.
“Thrice fairer than myself,” thus she began
Her sickly speeches of unwanted praise,
She ran through all my attributes as man,
And yet as more, as nymph, to my malaise,
Her eyes were wild, her breath too close, too warm -
She pressed herself thus closer to my form.
With this she seized hard on my sweating palm,
Catching my hand like I would do a bird,
Whispered, “your heartbeat sounds just like a psalm,”
A prayer that hath divinity deep stirred;
Appeared she suddenly o’er-brimmed with need
And violently she pulled me from my steed.
She led with one arm my unruly horse,
And with the other dragged me sore along,
I cried and shook and fought to change the course,
Fought hard against this wicked goddess strong,
But she was in the throws of her desire
And nothing I could do would make her tire.
And soon enough we stopped, and soon we lay
Panting among the thickets and the green,
I with anger and undeserved shame
She with her lust and fires, a raging queen
Of summer sorrows, forcing me to kiss
Forgoing my denials in her bliss.
I burned with bashful shame, she with her lips
Laid claim to that pure body that was mine
Just like a snake, or tiger, so she sipped
Upon her prey ‘til she be satisfied
But satisfaction never seemed to win
For where she stopped she would anew begin.
Her mouth sucked up and murdered my young voice,
I floundered like a babe washed out to sea,
To try to fight the waves was no real choice,
Instead I sank below ocean debris,
The wind and water claimed I owed a debt,
I blinked in fear and turned away my head.
“O, pity!” she soon cried, “flint-hearted boy!”
She raged against my writhing refusals
“’Tis but a kiss I beg; why art thou coy?”
And told me then how she had once enthralled
A god of war more mighty than the grave
Reduced to be her poor and wanton slave.
And so was I there trapped, as in a net,
Unsure of how I could make my escape,
Caught up by ropes of skin and chords of sweat,
I feared I’d, like a maid, suffer a rape,
And in that fear my pulse began to race;
I jumped up, said, “the sun doth burn my face!”
Once more she likened my young heart to flint,
And spoke with bitter breath of her great pains
Once more she tried to bargain for a kiss,
And when I paid no heed, once more complained,
Promised to make herself into a park
As if to lure me into her deep dark.
By now her arms were once again wound fast
Around my frame; I struggled to be free,
Struggled and panted to the very last
When it did seem something answered my plea,
I sprung away, and hastened to my steed
Who had been tied unto a nearby tree.
But soon my horse, like me, desired escape
A mare had crossed into his line of sight
I feared that he might run, I saw his shape
Strain in response to that soft female’s flight,
Despairing, I called out as he did rear
And cried as both animals disappeared.
Bereft of my companion and betrayed,
I sat back down, dejected, in the grass,
And Venus sat as well, to my dismay,
Caught up my hand again in her white grasp,
“Give me my hand,” said I, “why dost thou feel’t?”
“Give me my heart,” said she, “and thou shalt have’t.”
“For shame!” I cried, “let go, and let me go;”
My day’s delight was past, my steed was gone,
Desperation froze my young heart like snow
Shivering under the fast-darkening sun,
My eyes scanned the horizon for my horse
Cursing that mare with all her female force.
Venus came close again, and still she teased,
And still she tried to win me to her cause,
The red of her lips begged me for release
From that hot hunger which she claimed so gnawed,
Until I looked at her, with so much hate,
That she did swoon and hit the ground prostrate.
And then more fear than ever did I feel,
Adonis here a murderer was made!
I brushed her face, and with my lips made seal
Against her own, and kissed her in the shade,
And then were all re-opened her bright eyes;
Goddesses live more easily than die.
Relief that she yet lived, and yet also
The knowledge that I still must get away
Weighed upon me, urged me again to go
Before the sky bled out the dying day,
I offered her a kiss to say goodnight,
Negotiations ‘gainst her solid might.
And so we kissed, and me she o’erpowered
And once again she held me in her sway
Her breath came fast, her face burned in the bower
I felt myself give in, become her prey,
I weakly cried that I could stay no more,
Sputtered that I must leave to hunt the boar.
This brought forth agonies of newfound dread,
She clung and sobbed, and warned me of my foe,
Alarmed that his great tusks would leave me dead,
As if these were dangers I did not know,
And on and on she warned and she implored
To make me hate the hunting of the boar.
Eventually I broke away from her
And spent the night far off and on my own
Feeling only the thrill of the hunt stir
My fear and shame at were almost overthrown;
I heard but did ignore her plaintive song
That sounded all ev'ning with sorrows long.
Night’s blue embrace gave me a velvet shield;
The only loving touch I did desire
Was that of such dark ink spread o’er the fields,
Soft blackening blankets hid me from the fires
Of Venus and her ever aching search,
So settled I in shadows and in earth.
But soon that eastern eye ope’ed like a pearl
And shimmered with its grace upon the morn,
The forest stirred, both giant beast and squirrel
Shuffled among leaf, root, and sweet acorn;
I rose, and knew I’d rather meet the boar
Than grapple with mad Venus any more.
And then began the hunt! the hounds were out,
And I tried to forget the yesterday,
Pursued the boar with angry words and shouts
That, being trapped before, I could not say;
I was no longer weak! I had control
In stealing back the strength that Venus stole.
My heart beat doubly fast as normal did,
My face was flushed in my free forest reign,
This sun would never let that boar be hid!
Would never see me prisoner again!
I came close to the creature and drew back,
Locked in a dance with that great monster black.
And then it turned on me, grunted and groaned,
And in its eyes something made me recall
The fury and the fear of being owned,
The horror being under someone sprawled;
In one moment I knew that beastie’s mind
Then came the charge, the pain, the body’s bind.
And suddenly I sensed Venus was there
As blood poured forth and cold crept through my veins,
Lamenting words stagnating in the air
As pitchy fog o’erwhelmed my dying brain,
And so was I consigned to such a fate,
A flowery death my only real escape.