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First Choral Ode of Bakkhai

is a word I love to hear,
it sounds like wings to me,
wings brushing the world, grazing my life.
Pentheus has a harsh sound,
a negative sound.
He's a negative person.
He's against Dionysos,
against rejoicing,
against laughter,
against flutes.
Not to mention the transcendent gladness of grapes and wine
so beneficial to body, soul, and psyche's interior design.

I'm saying
his tongue is unbridled,
his reasoning reckless,
his end may be hot and hard.
A life of quiet discretion,
still as a summer day,
keeps the house cool.
Far off in the air live the undying gods
but they watch us.
They watch how far we press our limits:
there is a morning star,
there is an evening star,
don't press too far.

O daimon!
I dream of a perfectly clear afternoon
on the island where Aphrodite sits
counting her blessings
by the erotic sea.
I dream of rivers
with a hundred mouths
and mountains
where the leaves turn over like silver fire.
Take me there, Dionysos,
take me
some place ruled by the law of desire
where we can dance you and dance you and never tire.

A person may be high,
a person may be low,
a person may be rich,
a person may be simple,
all the same
Dionysos will wrap his arms around you.
It's not about intellectual prowess,
it's not about true and false,
it's pure release.
In Dionysos' nights and days you can find peace.
Say no and he will hate you.
Choose this embrace,
I do.


Michigan Quarterly Review

Spring 2013

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