Between heaven and hell
The Persephones by Joan Myers and Nathaniel Tarn
INGreek myth, Persephone contains within herself darkness and light: In the wintertime, she dwells in the underworld with Hades, lord of the dead, for four months; in spring, she returns to earth for eight months, where she is associated with fertility. Before she lived such a complicated life, Persephone was a sunny maiden who loved to pick flowers and was the beloved of her mother, the goddess Demeter. One day, she vanished from her mother’s circle. Her journey to the underworld and back has inspired such artists as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, whose painting
Proserpine captures the moment in which Persephone unthinkingly eats some seeds of a pomegranate, an action that will obligate her to spend time in the underworld every winter.
In the preface to The Persephones (a limited edition from Damiani), poet Nathaniel Tarn writes that Persephone and Eurydice are essentially the same figure — vegetation goddesses. The image of the vegetation goddess marks his poem “The Eighth Persephone”:
She goes into the dark out of the flowers into the singing machines which grind her down thru the earth to her rightful home
In this book, Tarn’s atmospheric poems are punctuated with stunning, earthy photographs by Joan Myers, who has exhibited at the Smithsonian, among other institutions. Tarn and Myers