Endymion by George Frederic Watts, 1872
In the sacred mountain of Latmos, in a cave near the peak,
blond Endymion has been wakelessly slumbering forever.
How he found himself under Selene’s eternal spell
is a story of passion beyond the deepest poet’s heart.
Returning from his pastures one day too ancient to place in time,
this boy whose gentle eyes were always overcast by a shadow,
as if he had been born with the sign of his obsessive love-to-be,
got carried away by his hunt of an animal, and stayed out until dark.
Tired as he was, this cave entrance was the ideal retreat for the night.
It was there through the dark leafage that she noticed him,
Selene, the goddess of the Moon, who saw eternity in his beauty
and could not help but decide to keep him for herself forever.
She leaned above Endymion and smiled her divine smile
so bright into his eyes, hypnotizing him, binding him to her charm.
He fell asleep hearing, as if in a dream, the jingling of his flock’s bells
growing more and more distant as his sheep went their way without him.
Seductively smooth light engulfed the young hunter’s sleep
as lovely Selene sat beside him and gazed at him entranced.
The freshness of her hair and sweetness of breath flooded his dreams with bliss.
She touched his eyelids with ethereal fingers and whispered:
“You shall never see the light of day again, my sweet boy. So beautifully you sleep…
I will be with you again tomorrow night, and every night from now on.
The most wonderful destiny I weave for you, a life you never dreamed of.
You shall never leave this sleep; immortally young you will remain in our eternal dream.”
So each morning Selene withdraws into the sky, giving her place to Eos,
the goddess of Dawn, who breaks her Sister’s spell, waking up all Creation,
painting golden all mountains, seas, meadows, rooftops sheltering the sleep of men,
restoring the brightness and glory of diurnal life for all beings.
Only enchanted Endymion will never escape his magical sleep.
Warm blood runs forever in his veins for his lover’s nightly visits,
but he remains still, forsaken, dead to the world, a faint smile on his half-opened lips
revealing his innocent yearning to roam again free with a flock of white-fleeced sheep.
Leon of SolitaryThinkers, April 2015
My inspiration for this poem is the Ancient Greek myth of Endymion and Selene. The name of the unbelievably handsome young mortal shepherd and hunter prince Ενδυμίων is etymologized to the verb ενδημώ and means “The one who resides within”, whereas Σελήνη is connected to noun σέλας and it means literally “The one who sheds smooth light”. Selene, the Titan goddess of the Moon, fell so madly in love with Endymion, that she convinced the great Zeus to grant the boy eternal youth and immortality so that he would never lose his beauty. Endymion was placed in a state of eternal slumber in a cave near the peak of Lydian Mount Latmos, where his heavenly bride descended to consort with him in the night.
“Myths are first and foremost psychic phenomena that reveal the nature of the soul”, said Carl Jung. Decoding the story of Selene and Endymion, we could say that love can never be possessively restricted or restrictive in any sort of relationship, or its very meaning as the driving force of the universe is lost.
This myth has been fascinating me for months now, but I could not realize its full relevance to my life until a week ago, when I met my bedridden mother-in-law after thirteen years of separation. We held each other tight again and again, me leaning over her side-railed bed and scratching her face and neck with my mostly white beard, she trying to hug me with arthritis-crooked fingers and to kiss me with horribly drawn-in lips of a toothless mouth, both of us transcending all struggles and destruction, our souls naturally agreeing to leave all differences behind. We do not share a karmic past as heavy as she does with her daughter, her lover and enemy of old, whom she insists on punishing with her selective dementia when pressured to recognize the evil she had been doing in this lifetime together with her abusive late husband. Plutonia has been residing deeper within the underworld, probably a hunter-become-hunted like Endymion who has been unable to leave this cave for too long now.
I do feel the change in the air, though. I believe. I always have, no matter what, even if I have stood an inch off the cliff countless times in this battlefield of a life. And the reason I believe, is because I Feel things. “The Tarot deck is not all about Cups, you know”, my way-above-average-cerebral better half told me recently. Of course. Each life includes the energies of the whole deck of cards, but, how should I put it; it seems that it is more through the suit of Cups that I view the whole deck, more through the warmth of emotion that even my mental faculties function at their optimal level. So I feel that the time for release is drawing near, especially if we abandon ourselves with trust to the workings of the universe. We will be traveling again to my mother-in-law’s town a few more times, fighting to sort out the chaos her husband left behind him, and I will be feeling very safe. Our deepest gratitude goes out to our friends here who have been with us in unbelievably heartfelt ways. I include you all in my upcoming post, which is also my embrace of the smallest, most beautiful poetry challenge I had the honor of being nominated for.
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Hellenic mythology meets Finnish lyricism in My Selene, a wonderful composition of the amazing Jani Liimatainen’s who plays the guitar in both of the following versions, first in the acoustic one with Pisces Sun singer Timo Kotipelto, and then with Taurus Sun Toni Kakko and their band Sonata Arctica. Absolutely amazing, both versions.