Acon

Hilda Doolittle (1886 – 1961) – often referred to by her initials H.D.- was always interested in Greece and especially the history of this country. Greek mythology is the subject of the poem “Acon.”

About "Acon"

About “Acon”

In this poem, Doolittle shows her admiration for Ancient Greece. This poem features some well-known places that appear in Greek mythology.

Doolittle wants to be taken to the mountain cave Dictaeus. It was here, according to the ancient stories, where Zeus was raised by nymphs. After visiting this cave, she wants to be taken to the river Erymanthus. This is a mythical river and was mentioned in Heracles’ story about the twelve labours. Heracles captures the Erymanthian Boar, that lived in the highlands of Arcadia. This made sure the region was safe again. The boar was brought to Kin Eurystheus. Heracles visit to Mycenea made the king scared and Heracles was praised for his heroism.

There was a good reason for Doolittle to go to these places. She wanted to show the world she could do the same, just as men. This poem is an outcry for equal rights for women (emancipation). This could very well a description of her Odyssey, that ends with the temptation of Hyella – with flowers, wine and some fine cloth.

Acon

Acon

I

Bear me to Dictaeus,
and to the steep slopes;
to the river Erymanthus.

I choose spray of dittany,
cyperum, frail of flower,
buds of myrrh,
all-healing herbs,
close pressed in calathes.

For she lies panting,
drawing sharp breath,
broken with harsh sobs,
she, Hyella,
whom no god pities.

II

Dryads
haunting the groves,
nereids
who dwell in wet caves,
for all the white leaves of olive-branch,
and early roses,
and ivy wreaths, woven gold berries,
which she once brought to your altars,
bear now ripe fruits from Arcadia,
and Assyrian wine
to shatter her fever.

The light of her face falls from its flower,
as a hyacinth,
hidden in a far valley,
perishes upon burnt grass.

Pales,
bring gifts,
bring your Phoenician stuffs,
and do you, fleet-footed nymphs,
bring offerings,
Illyrian iris,
and a branch of shrub,
and frail-headed poppies.

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