Eos At The Never-End


Eos At the Never-End

She took
to locking him in a room.
She took
to rolling rugs against the jamb.
She took no one
into her confidence,
not the sons of her womb,
the sons she’d won
by taking him,
then beautiful.

She, who gave birth to herself
each day anew;
she, who gave birth
to each day anew;
could do nothing–
against the decay
of his loved limbs,
the wither of his skin,
nor yet against
the forestalling of
the dust of him.

She took to polishing
burnishing the door’s brass handle
until it fretted into the flute
of an icon’s
pilgrim-palmed foot,
the metal worn to its marrow
by eons’ pleas.

She hummed, polishing,
as if dusting thin air,
but truly to guard against
the threadbaring
of the rolled rugs, their insufficient
for she could not bear to hear
his gristled babble,
his dried tongue,
the chirping
of chapped bones.

Oh how she ached, when there;
oh how she hurt, when apart;
but still she could not enter,
not even in those dark hours
when oblivion corralled
her pale chariot,
and rose was a shade
not imaginable.
not then.


Here’s a sort of poem for dVerse Poets Pub’s poetics prompt, hosted by Abhra Pal, to write a poem arising out of myth.  I have resorted to the myth of Eos (the Goddess of the Dawn) and Tithonus, the human lover she captured, who, upon her request to Zeus, was granted the boon of immortality.  Eos forgot, however, to request that Tithonus also be granted endless youth; thus he was doomed to live forever, growing older and older.  There are numerous versions of the myth–in some Tithonus becomes so old and parched that he turns into a cricket; in others, he simply becomes very very old (and I guess, senile) and Eos locks him away in a room so that she does not have to hear his feeble babbling. 

The above is a photo (supposedly in the public domain) of  Eos and her son (by Tithonus) named Memnon, slain in the Trojan War.  (So, it’s not Tithonus–too young–but a beautiful figure.)  This is from an Attic red-figure cup, ca. 490-480 BC, signed by Douris (painter) and Kalliades (potter).  It is sometimes called the “Memnon Pietà.”   (It’s in the Louvre Museum. No copyright infringement intended.) 

PS this has been edited since first posting;  one edit was done on the iPhone and left out a word!  But I think I’ve fixed that now.

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28 Comments on “Eos At The Never-End”

  1. claudia Says:

    oh heck… how sad… made me think of the highlander a bit when he stayed young and his wife grew old and he loved her til the end… tough though when your’re in a way beyond age and there is no end in sight like in that story…

  2. A sad story.. Especially when we see today the obsession with youth.. But immortality on such conditions would not be the best.. I like the version of the myth when he turns into a cricket .. Thus his voice can still be heard.

  3. Abhra Says:

    This is such an interesting chapter of mythology – a great learning for me and I could see that metaphor in it so well.

    Leaves me sad, yes – but also glad to know this. Thanks for joining the prompt Karin.

  4. ayala Says:

    Sad..thanks for this share.

  5. Mary Says:

    I have never heard of this myth, but I do understand the plight of Eos. In the end her life became a living hell. I think, even without the complications of on aging and one staying young, some people’s lives turn out much differently than they expected & become hellish.

  6. Sumana Roy Says:

    nothing can be sadder than being a prisoner of desire and even immortality seems to be an eternal damnation…so sad…

  7. brian miller Says:

    nicely played k…full of feeling…what a helpless place of being as well….painful to be there….painful to be away….watching him waste away…reminds me of watching my MIL die over 2 years…

  8. bleibalien Says:

    Groovy piece of work even if it is sad. Loved “the chirping
    of chapped bones” and “when oblivion corralled
    her pale chariot.”

  9. Ageing is no walk in the park, but I hadn’t seen it as quite so tragic before…

  10. Mama Zen Says:

    This is exquisite work, K. The third stanza is breathtaking.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks, Kelly. I realize I had a typo from an iPhone edit, but glad it didn’t interfere too much with the poem and thank you for your kind comment. k.

      On Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 11:51 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  11. Glenn Buttkus Says:

    This is a new voice for you, it seems, & a very expressive one. It is always good to weave morality into myth, legend, fairy tales–because we go away from it reminded of our own foibles, weaknesses & scotomas; nice take on the prompt; very well done.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks very much, Glenn. You are right–I do not choose this kind of subject much and probably should branch out more, as it takes one farther from one’s self (a sometimes boring topic.)

      Thanks again. k.

      On Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 12:02 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  12. hedgewitch Says:

    This is elegiac and excellent, k, and of course, right in my own favored wheelhouse, so I adore it even more. The sharp specificity of the phrasing and descriptions(pilgrim-palmed foot, gristled babble), so indescribably other, really add an exceptional feeling of centering to that myth–I know this is one you have mentioned several times, obviously a very meaningful one to you. Here you bring the sadness and real horror of it to life, and that little thing all we mortals know in our hearts–you cannot trust the gods.

  13. MarinaSofia Says:

    I really like the repetition in the first lines of each stanza – fits in very well with that sense of daily renewal… and then it peters out, like his youth and beauty…

  14. A cold but true looks at the mortality of GODs and humans and without love whether mortal or eternal the room grows cooler and people grow distant..until death sets in.. even in life…

    Have a nice day.. and smiles 2..:);)!

  15. This is a beaut I absolutely loved it!

  16. Reblogged this on Musings and Smatterings and commented:
    Quite often I come across a poem such as this I wish I wish I wish id have written myself! Beautiful!

  17. b_young Says:

    Wish this were one of mine.
    Right on the mark.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    “an icon’s pilgrim-palmed foot” is brilliant. This is a riveting tale, so well told…………

  19. Brendan Says:

    There’s a strain in myth and folklore where a great boon is gobsmacked by a fallibility: a woman fails to put the lid properly back upon the well (and so the town is drowned that night), Pandora peeks into the box, etc. Eos is not alone in this (or our need to blame women for trying to do a man’s job). Your poem reminds us to be careful what we pray for, and no matter what to read the instructions. As if! Delightful and devious details throughtout (that rug mashed against the door, as if to keep time out or the odors of decay in, the handle of the door which becomes a votive object of eternity, as if we could ever truly command such a door. Great write.

  20. Steve King Says:

    You’ve taken an ancient tragedy and infused it with a new and original dimension. Great imagination here!
    Steve K.

  21. Jamie Dedes Says:

    Wonderful! A refreshing change as I’ve have not seen anyone else use this myth. Well done.

  22. Like the first poster I also thought ot the Highlander movie, maybe based on this myth. This is one of those tales I read when little but didn’t “register” like the ones about Perseus and Hercules. Beautiful poem but very sad. Lovely feelings, especially from her to him.

    Greetings from London.

  23. grapeling Says:

    beautifully done. I’ve been a fan of greek myth since a child, and any retelling is welcome to me. ~

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