Saturday, November 12, 2005

Styx by Robert Duncan

Styx By Robert Duncan

And a tenth part of Okeanos is given to dark night
a tithe of the pure water under earth
so that the clear fountains pour from rock face,
tears stream from the caverns and clefts,
down-running, carving wondrous ways in basalt resistance,
cutting deep as they go into layers of time- layerd
Gaia where She sleeps-

the cold water, the black rushing gleam, the
moving down-rush, wash, gush out over
red-rocks, toiling the boulders in flood,
purling in deeps, broad flashing in falls

And a tenth part of bright clear Okeanos
his circulations- mists, rains, sheets, sheathes-
lies in poisonous depths, the black water.

Styx this carver of caverns beneath us is.
Styx this black water, this down pouring.

I was reading up on the author and I found out about his background and how it included the study of Greek deities and his fascination with them. The title of the poem was what really caught my eye, and that was Styx. Which I am assuming represents the River of Styx or the hateful river. The River of Styx was seen as the crossing from death into the Greek underworld. "Gaia" or "Ge" is seen as mother earth from which all things were created. The imagery of this poem is also unique in that the descriptions of the water and how it flows over the rocks and edges of the caves is not tranquil but harsh and almost painful. For example "gushing" and "toiling" and "cutting deep" all give an image of something untamed and unpredictable. I think this is the poets attempt to describe the Greeks underworld, one of no hope and no future, as it was seen in the ancient Greek culture.


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