Document belonging to the Greek Mythology Link, a web site created by Carlos Parada, author of Genealogical Guide to Greek Mythology
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Copyright © 1997 Carlos Parada and Maicar Förlag.

Four poems by Susanna Roxman


Yes, that was how you returned,
on long shipwrecks.

In love with homecoming, wholeness,
you’d worn out the slowest war

but brought no gold or glamour,
simply the gift of revenge.

They didn’t expect you back.
It could have been more convenient.

Only the dog neglected
your histrionic disguise.

Stones shone in your beginning
where you and the world overlapped.

Now time holds you by the throat,
shaking you like a rabbit.

Your dreams are gorged
with white limbs disappearing.

Once you called yourself No One.
This is the enduring ache,

to know against burnt sunsets
you should have stayed away.


I am Circe,
turn my profile only,
feather and beak,

eye like this island
marking the middle
of round brilliant seas.

Mistress of disguises,
I play any games
but prefer my own.

No son will succeed me
and strong must be that woman
who practises my art.

I take lovers, teach them
what they most need
and least want, then release them.

My father is Helios,
his fire in my veins.
Mortals move like children.

Catch me if you can,
I’m a kestrel,
rise in bright spirals.

Accept that the dead
have covered their faces,
lost their clear voices,

yet wield powerful
influence, a current
which the skipper fears.

Daughter of daytime,
I’ve also learnt dark
lore, how descent

becomes a ladder needed
in order to ascend.
The lost ships take you home.

Surrounded by blueness
this cliff is my queendom
where shadows die at noon.

I’m Circe the Knower,
glide in shining circles
to survey my world.


When they tell you it’s only a myth,
don’t believe them.

When they say, oh yes, it does exist,
but as a relatively late settlement,
some vulgar Hellenistic town
shallowly buried in rough ground,
an unmade bed under a coverlet,
don’t suppose it’s all.

Schliemann came to this hill
in order to show that his boyhood
and Homeric Troy had both been real.

His proof of the child was identified
with knife blades of silver, spear tips of bronze
(their shafts had reverted to earth),
with soft gold calmly insisting
on feathery diadems like owls.

Ironically, the hoard was preheroic.

Missing Homer’s tough city,
Schliemann found and founded his own.

Death, the tall duchess patiently waiting at Naples,
seemed trivial once he’d seen
that briskly successful businessman
becoming a mere negation, a husk,
concealing a robust boy.

Troy turned out to be many-layered,
a lavish birthday cake.
That level where Schliemann stood face to face
with himself at last had been burnt,
its rich crunchy texture containing
charcoal, blackened bricks, bones.

Each Troy is always liable to fall.

But don’t suppose this is all.
You’ll have to plunge deeper,
descend even steeper paths
past dark blue strata, millennia,
and forget that sleekness of weapons,
those conveniences of wealth.

You’ll want to plummet gently
but unerringly like amber in water
down to the first Troy, a slow
forgotten village where people
kept goats and gathered green walnuts
and nothing much ever happened,

get back to before the beginning, transcend
eras of flaming cities
or stupid adulthood.


It was her parents, she said.
She felt sorry for them:
they were so dead.

The double vision,
visor and razor,
white and gilded mask
or severed head
floating where land
and water touch.

He shouted ‘Eurydice! Eurydice!’
down green tunnels in spring.

There have been kings like gold masks,
impassive and bearded.
I always watch them sinking,
out of sight.

Loving brushwork
supports her feet
coinciding with brushwood
and early flowers,
blue miniature irises,
the daintiest daisies,
a little premature,
low yellow tulips
carved in wood
and painted with scarlet beaks.

The shades rose boldly
as he had known they could.
It was like a fantasy of omnipotence.
They rose briefly on tiptoe,
lips parted, ears
cupped to catch the strains.

Embarrassing, that second parting.
From a dramaturgic point of view,
one farewell should be enough.

In early versions he was partnerless.

The torn-off head
sits grey as a computer, bled,
all senses and emotions shed.

Picture now
his happy ending, the firm
grasp around her wrist, his relentless
pace upwards,
forwards, then sunlight
and her surprised cry ‘My darling!
thanks for saving my life!’
and his ‘You're welcome’.



their glossy gold leaf embrace
and gentle return home,

his composing an ode
in his own honour,
‘Orpheus the Saviour’.



her body must have felt strange:
hands, unwebbed but spread
like fans, arms and legs
equipped with joints (how convenient).
She compiled a dream
about larger pores
or cells less close
together, a mesh
through which sunbeams could sift,
halfway between spirit and flesh.

You can still see his mask
among ripples and moving
seams of light
some inches under
the silk thin surface.

Wearing a funny
felt cap, he sat
in the middle with lyre and plectrum
when tapestry beasts came gambolling
and struck heraldic poses:
out of their cupboard
leapt lion and leopard
studded with precious stones
shooting crimson
and green sparks.

One year after
the last loss,
he followed a diagonal
chorus line of trees.
Each one could have been Eurydice,

simple nymph reared
on minerals and moisture

who had turned her back on him; was gone.

His mask might be mounted on a stick,
brandished like a bronze mirror.

Wild women detested him:
he disapproved of wildness,
wanted inspiration
but within limits;
everything must be just so.

Some tore heads
off mushrooms and ate.

The edge of her peplops
curled Ionically,
improbably. Linen
doesn’t move like that

though water almost does,
papyrus scrolls always,
and certain stylized petals,
of lilies perhaps.

Her body must have swayed like a coat hanger.
She was myopic and slightly anorexic.

What’s wrong here, I believe,
morally as well as aesthetically,
is her status as object
and victim, that nearly total
marble passivity, her helplessness,
dust on fingers and face.

At dusk his mouth looked blurred
as if no distinct
distichs could pass.

The moon by his disciples
was called Medusa’s Head.
She specialized in terror.

Add that he found sea anemones disturbing:
they lack decorum and grace,
billow in an obscene manner.

Orpheus never delivered
Eurydice from hell.
This is her own task,
the hardest.


But one of these days

she’ll decide to forgive herself
life and the desire to live.
There will be no stopping her then,
not one regretful
glance across her shoulder.
She’ll rise from her chair: emerge.

© Susanna Roxman, 2003
PhD in Comparative Literature; Writer.
Web site:
Reproduced with the author’s permission.