Saturday, August 29, 2009


There is an old Greek about Atalanta, a king’s daughter, who was left to die on a hillside – he wanted a son. It’s a common ancient story – she was raised by bears, then peasants. She could outrun and outfight any man.

Adult and reconciled, back at court, suitors besieged her. She announced she would only marry if the man could beat her in a running race. Several tried and failed and were put to death. But one, more cunning than the rest, sought help from Aphrodite, goddess of love. She gave him three golden apples. Whenever Atalanta drew level with him he threw one down. She stopped to pick them up and in the end failed to catch him. So he won her and as far as I know they lived happily ever after.

Jan Kemp uses this legend to express sexual desire.


He keeps tossing her
those golden apples
just as she draws level
with his elbow.

she lets them fall.

She wants to range with him
a huntress
and let fly her brilliant arrows

but she’s enchanted
by the slow arc
of his arm
and his enticing smile.

Jan Kemp

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