Poetry Month

Hades and Persephone

Presenting “Hades and Persephone,” an original poem by Jo Walton in celebration of National Poetry Month, acquired for Tor.com by senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

Tor.com is celebrating National Poetry Month by featuring science fiction and fantasy poetry from a variety of SFF authors. You’ll find classic works, hidden gems, and new commissions featured on the site throughout the month. Check out the Poetry Month index for more poems!

 

Hades and Persephone

You bring the light clasped round you, and although
I knew you’d bring it, knew it as I waited,
Knew as you’d come that you’d come cloaked in light
I had forgotten what light meant, and so
This longed for moment, so anticipated,
I stand still, dazzled by my own delight.

I see you, and you see me, and we smile
And your smile says you are as pleased as me
With everything and nothing still to say
All that we’ve saved and thought through all this time
Boils down to affirmation now as we
Stand here enlightened in my realm of grey.

Cerberus wags his solitary tail,
And though the dust of Hell lies round our feet
Your flowers are already sprouting through.
“You came,” “I said I would,” “You didn’t fail,”
“And you’re still here,” “Of course. We said we’d meet.”
“Yes,” “Yes!” “You’re really here! “And so are you!”

We don’t say yet that you will have to go
And Hell return inevitably black
Your flowers fade when parted from your tread
Though this is something we both surely know,
As certain as you come, you must go back,
And I remain alone among the dead.

They say I snatched you from the world above
Bound you with pomegranates, cast a spell
Bribed you with architecture. It’s not so.
Friendship is complicated, life is, love,
Your work the growing world, my task is Hell
You come back always, always have to go.

But here and now, this moment, we can smile,
Speak and be heard, this moment we can share
And laugh, and help each other to be great,
And talk aloud together, all worthwhile,
Our work, our worlds, and all we really care,
Each word shines golden, each thought worth the wait.

And Hell’s poor souls whirl round us as they glide
Off up to Lethe to begin again,
On to new lives, new dawns beyond Hell’s night.
We walk among your flowers, side by side,
Such joys we share are worth a little pain.
You come back. And you always bring the light.

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