Be­tween heaven and hell

The Perse­phones by Joan My­ers and Nathaniel Tarn

Pasatiempo - - NEWS -

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

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