Examples of Anacreontic verse : Poetry through the Ages

A page from the "Poetry through the Ages" exhibit...



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Ancient beginnings.

One of the best preserved examples of Anacreontic Verse comes from 5th to 6th century B.C. poet-playwright Aeschylus. He imbedded the form within his immortal myth-play, Prometheus Bound, with a bellowing Io responding to Prometheus:

From Prometheus Bound
Aeschylus (c. 535-450 BC)

Spasm! Again

what manias
beat my brain
hot i’m hot
where’s the fire?
here’s horsefly
His Arrowhead
not fire forged
but sticks: heart
stuck with fear
kicks at my ribs
eye balls whirl
spirally wheeled
by madness, madness
stormblasted I'm
blown off course
my tongue my tiller
it’s unhinged, flappy
words words thrash
dashed O! at doom
mud churning up
breaking in waves
 

Modern interpretations.

A more modern example of Anacreontic verse shows that, no matter the century in which it’s written, classic subjects with Dionysian undertones cleave best to the form:

Spirit Mischief
Robert Yehling (1959- )

Two spirits danced

on mountaintops
adorned with snow,
flower patches
and robes of stars
covering their
naked bodies
while the moonlight
cast her glory,
donning their madness,
dancing slowly
across the sky
releasing scents
of evergreen.
Crag rock, a mouse
spooked by shadow
of a white goat
that hoofed upward
when the spirits
called out his name
and offered food
only dancers,
stars, moonlight and
the cold fever
of the goat’s eyes
would recognize.
 
 

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