Sunday, January 16, 2011

An Early Greek Love Spell, To Draw Back an Unfaithful Lover.

From the pages of Theocritus:

Where are the bay-leaves, Thestylis, and the charms?

Fetch all; with fiery wool the caldron crown;

Let glamour win me back my false lord's heart!

Twelve days the wretch hath not come nigh to me,

Nor made enquiry if I die or live,

Nor clamoured (oh unkindness!) at my door.

Sure his swift fancy wanders otherwhere,

The slave of Aphroditè and of Love.

I'll off to Timagetus' wrestling-school

At dawn, that I may see him and denounce

His doings; but I'll charm him now with charms.

So shine out fair, O moon! To thee I sing

My soft low song: to thee and Hecatè

The dweller in the shades, at whose approach

E'en the dogs quake, as on she moves through blood

And darkness and the barrows of the slain.

All hail, dread Hecatè: companion me

Unto the end, and work me witcheries

Potent as Circè or Medea wrought,

Or Perimedè of the golden hair!

Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.

First we ignite the grain. Nay, pile it on:

Where are thy wits flown, timorous Thestylis?

Shall I be flouted, I, by such as thou?

Pile, and still say, 'This pile is of his bones.'

Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.

Delphis racks me: I burn him in these bays.

As, flame-enkindled, they lift up their voice,

Blaze once, and not a trace is left behind:

So waste his flesh to powder in yon fire!

Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.

E'en as I melt, not uninspired, the wax,

May Mindian Delphis melt this hour with love:

And, swiftly as this brazen wheel whirls round,

May Aphroditè whirl him to my door.

Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.

Next burn the husks. Hell's adamantine floor

And aught that else stands firm can Artemis move.

Thestylis, the hounds bay up and down the town:

The goddess stands i' the crossroads: sound the gongs.

Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.

Hushed are the voices of the winds and seas;

But O not hushed the voice of my despair.

He burns my being up, who left me here

No wife, no maiden, in my misery.

Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.

Thrice I pour out; speak thrice, sweet mistress, thus:

"What face soe'er hangs o'er him be forgot

Clean as, in Dia, Theseus (legends say)

Forgat his Ariadne's locks of love."

Turn, magic, wheel, draw homeward him I love.

The coltsfoot grows in Arcady, the weed

That drives the mountain-colts and swift mares wild.

Like them may Delphis rave: so, maniac-wise,

Race from his burnished brethren home to me.

Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.

He lost this tassel from his robe; which I

Shred thus, and cast it on the raging flames.

Ah baleful Love! why, like the marsh-born leech,

Cling to my flesh, and drain my dark veins dry?

Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.

From a crushed eft tomorrow he shall drink

Death! But now, Thestylis, take these herbs and smear

That threshold o'er, whereto at heart I cling

Still, still—albeit he thinks scorn of me—

And spit, and say, ''Tis Delphis' bones I smear.'

Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.

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