The Odyssey, Book Twelve

I needed a warning from the goddess
and a group of men to lash me to the mast
hand and foot, so that I could listen
to swelling, sun-scorched, fatal voices
of two Sirens weaving a haunted sound
over the boiling surf, calling me downward
while I twisted with desire in the ropes
and pleaded to be untied, unbound, unleashed.
How willingly I would have given myself up
to that ardor, that drowning blue charm,
while hopeless clouds scudded overhead
and the deaf oarsmen rowed ruthlessly home.
I was saved, I know, but even now, years later,
I crave those voices dreaming in my sleep.


                The Odyssey, Book Twelve

I listened so the goddess could charm my mind
against the ravishing sunlight, the lord of noon,
and I could stroll through country unharmed
toward the prowling straits of Scylla and Charybdis,

but I was unprepared for the Siren lolling
on a bed in a dirty room above a tavern
where workers guzzled sour red wine
and played their cards late into the night.

It takes only a moment to cruise eternity
who dressed quickly and left, after twenty minutes,
taking my money. I went back to the ship
and the ordinary men pressing for home,

but, love, some part of me has never left
that dark green shore sweetened with clover.