Acon

The poem Acon written by Hilda Doolittle is a poem that refers to classic Greek mythology.

About the poem

This poem shows the love and admiration Doolittle must have had for ancient Greece. The poem consists of many well-known figures and places from Greek mythology.

In the poem she is asked to be taken to the mountain cave Dictaeus. According to Greek mythology, this was the place were Zeus was reared by nymphs, as an infant. From there on she wants to be taken to the river Erymanthus. This mythical river played an important role in the capture of Heracles’ twelve labours. Here he captured the Erymanthian Boar. This boar lived in the highlands of Arcadia and had to be captured by Heracles, to ensure the safety of the region. Heracles was to take the boar to King Eurystheus. When arriving in Mycenae, where the king lived, this made the king so scared for this boar, that he hid himself. A classic tale of heroism.

Doolittle needed to go there, probably to show what she was made of or the fact that she thought this metaphor was a good reference to the emancipation of women.

One might say, that she is describing her own odyssey and in the end it’s all about wanting to tempt Hyella, with flowers, fruit and wine and some fine cloth.

 

Acon

By Hilda Doolittle

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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