Eis Artemin

Hapax Legomenon

Eis Artemin

by Aaron Hollander '07 and Sally O'Brien '07
(Homeric Hymn to Artemis)

Artemis is my song: she, gold spindled,
wood-crashing, dogs snapping,
deer-slaughtering, arrow-pouring she.
Down from the peaks, half black with shade,
through the sun-sharp air, through skin-grazing brush,
she dives. She likes it: the swivel of animal ears,
how the air collects like liquid between
her eyes and theirs. She does not have to
break that branch with her gold-sandaled step,
but she does. She likes the snap
of their heads as they turn tail, the sudden
clutch of muscle. The shade spreads over the ground
like lamp oil. She stretches the all-golden bow
back, and arrows quiver on all sides - the screams
of beasts reverberate and dapple the forest;
it shakes with their weight as they fall.
The earth bristles.
And sometimes, sometimes:
a man out alone with his hounds sees an ibex
with golden horns, and follows it up
beyond the treeline. As if in a dream,
he cannot catch up, nor does the ibex vanish
from sight, until, among unfamiliar crags,
it stops, and he sees that it has slender hands,
before the horns fall slack and dissolve
into golden hair, and its matted hide sloughs off. He sees
a woman's breasts - and for an instant behind her,
the other men's skeletons like abandoned armor.
And she goes home to the halls of Apollo,
the cinnamon land of the Muses and Graces.
There, she lays down her bow, and winding
string after string of amber beads around her arms
and her throat, she enters the well-ordered dance
in the polished house. As she takes the white wrist
of the maiden in front, the girl flinches, seeing the
deer hair on the goddess' hand, her knuckles
flecked with blood.
And they sing hymns
to beautiful-ankled Leto, because she bore children
best by far of the Immortals in counsel and arts.

Original translation from Greek:

I sing of gold-spindled, noisy/clamorous Artemis,
The respect/reverence-deserving, deer-shooting, arrow-pouring
Full sister of Apollo of the gold sword -
Artemis who, down from the shady mountain and the windy/airy heights,
Delighting in the hunt, bends/stretches/draws the all-golden bow,
Sending forth groan-causing arrows/missiles; [she/they] tremble/quiver
At/in awe of/before the head/summit of the lofty mountains, and thereupon the shady/bushy forest reverberates
Terribly under the clamor of wild beasts, and the earth bristles/stands on end,
And the fishy sea; and she, having a mighty heart,
Turns/is constantly turning in every direction, killing the race/offspring of beasts.
But whenever/as often as the beast-watching, arrow-pouring one is delighted
And she rejoices in her mind, having loosened her well-curved bow,
She goes to the great house of her dear brother
Phoebus Apollo of Delphi, to the fertile region
Of the Muses and Graces arranging a beautiful choir/dance.
There, hanging up her back-bending bow and arrows
She leads the graceful choir/dance, having adornment/ornamentation around her body,
conducting the choirs/dances; and at last they send themselves
Immortal, beautiful-ankled Leto with hymns, because she bore children
Best by far of the immortals in council and works -
Hail, children of God and beautiful-haired Leto;
But I will remember you now