|The Rhyme Maker
This poem, from the perspective of
Bromios (another name for Dionysus/Bacchus), describes a typical day
in the life of the god of wine, frolicking in the woods with his
entourage: fauns, satyrs, panisks, centaurs, Maenads, and whatever
hapless (or lucky) human happened to join in the festivities (in this
poem, stanza #2, a young lady is being given a bacchanalian baptism).
Fauns and satyrs (first stanza), along
with panisks and centaurs (last stanza), are creatures of the
forests of Roman and Greek mythology. Fauns, stayrs, and panisks
all shared bodily features of men and goats, while a centaur was half
man and half horse. The Maenads were beautiful and seductive women
who headlined Bromios' “worship services” (wine parties) –
known to devour woodland creatures who happened along their way (wine
does stimulate the appetite). See Witter Bynner's Bacchanalian.
“rohododaphnai” (third stanza)
refers to plants/trees related to the myrtle family.
The chiton and peplum (sixth stanza)
are names for two different types of clothing of ancient Greece –
much skimpier and sexier than the Roman toga, the favorite garb of
modern Bacchanalia (fraternity and sorority “toga parties”).
Our poet, Richard Aldington, is best
known for his World War I poetry and his novel Death Of A Hero
(1929), and somewhat infamously for Lawrence of Arabia: A
Biographical Inquiry (1955), a book that brought into question many
of the claims in T. E. Lawrence's famed autobiography (and the
later 1962 film, Lawrence of Arabia). A close friend of poet Ezra
Pound, Pound named Aldington and H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) as his two
cohorts in the establishment of the Imagist Movement in poetry – an
important milestone in the development of modern prosody.
Des Imagistes, the source book for this
poem, edited by Ezra Pound and published in 1914, was the first
anthology of the Imagist Movement.
- S. H. Bass
Richard Aldington (1892-1962), English
writer and poet
The withered bonds are broken.
The waxed reeds and the double pipe
Clamor about me;
The hot wind swirls
Through the red pine trunks.
Io! the fauns and the satyrs.
The touch of their shagged curled fur
And blunt horns!
They have wine in heavy craters
Painted black and red;
Wine to splash on her white body.
She shrinks from the cold shower –
Let the Maenads break through the
And the boughs of the rohododaphnai.
Let them tear the quick deers' flesh.
Ah, the cruel, exquisite fingers!
I have brought you the brown clusters,
The ivy-boughs and pine-cones.
Your breasts are cold sea-ripples,
But they smell of the warm grasses.
Throw wide the chiton and the peplum,
Maidens of the Dew.
Beautiful are your bodies, O Maenads,
Beautiful the sudden folds,
The vanishing curves of the white linen
Hear the rich laughter of the forest,
The trampling of the panisks and the
from Des Imagistes (1914), edited by
Ezra Pound (1885-1972)
Richard Arlington at amazon.com
Death of a Hero (Penguin Classics)
This book ranks alongside Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front and Ernest Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls as a classic story of World War I.
WINE IN ART
click to enlarge