Dr. Zeus – Book II – Canto VIII

Of what has yet to unfold
Though it’s now being told
Of his very last test
Where he has to impress
Of how he does try
And a god’s horrid lie
Of a titan, much loved, greatly restricted
And the pain which was ‘pon him inflicted
-Oh Halcyon Muses nine-
For your version I simply haven’t the time
As with Orpheus still I’m not through
And with him now I know what to do
So shall he sing his very next tale?
Hoping ‘gainst Fate right here to prevail
So let us see what he now does
If he escapes with his truest true love

And This Last Song is for Acheron

Following Phlegethon’s westerly bend
Orpheus approached his long journey’s end

Forward and faster – he started to run
As he knew his quest soon would be done

Father joined son, father on, once more
As together they burst through Acheron’s shore

These three did in torrential surge mix
The river of pain and the offspring of Styx

At the foot of a bluff is where they combine
Where spirits do stand all outside of time

Wading through that spiritus mass
He approached the place where Charon does pass

There he was, crooked nosed and cloaked
To that bent hobbled figured Orpheus spoke

“Hail Charon, who carries the dead
Who escorts souls from the last of their beds

“I seek him whom ‘cross them you carry
‘Pon whom’s surface you glide on your ferry”

“Alas,” he replied, “he shall not appear
“But you he shall hear so there’s no need to fear

“For all that happens by his waters’ dark flow
He does immediately instinctually know

“So climb in, I’ll take you along
And you for him can sing your last song

“Do not worry I’ll come back for you wife
I’ll help return her to you, to life”

With rotten teeth Charon did smile
Showing wit, intelligence, and guile

So nervous, but assured by Phlegathon’s words
Orpheus put from his mind all thoughts absurd

Thus calmed in his heart and settled in soul
The future of Heracles he began to extoll

“At the word of Eurystheus, at his behest
Above the north wind will Heracles quest

“For the Hesperides apples he’ll be commanded to find
And all do, for them, have the wrong place in mind

“To the west most believe that they lie
But there you’ll not find them despite how you try

“Heracles though will learn their location
And thus escape a dread situation

“But before he gets there, before they are found
He’ll come across Prometheus bound

“And when the titan does Heracles meet
He will, himself, cordially greet

“”Hail Prometheus, patron of man
He who always has a well crafted plan”

“But only in groans will the titan reply
For up in the sky an eagle he’ll spy

“”What’s wrong?” will ask the great son of Zeus
“In a god what could such pain produce?”

He’ll say “see that bird that circles above?
“‘Tis no sign of peace, it isn’t a dove

“”It ’pon me your father has set
No relief shall ever I get

“”Every day on my liver it feasts
Every night it grows back and repeats”

“Heracles, shocked, will be taken aback
He’ll think his father would cut him some slack

“But ‘fore more is said the eagle will dive
To, as always, consume what still is alive

“And as it lands as it gets ready to eat
Will Heracles reach out and grab at its beak

“With his forceful hand he’ll crush its soft head
Though it’s eaten a god it can still be made dead

“”I thank you my friend” Prometheus will say
“But will Zeus not cause you to rue this some day?”

“Heracles will laugh and shake his great locks
“You jest?”  he’ll ask, “surely you mock?

“”I’m nearly the strongest of all of the gods
My father does love me despite how I’m flawed”

“Thus as the titan is unequalled in cunning
His hopes and his thoughts, they’ll be set then to running

“”One good deed,” he’ll say, “deserves one in kind
And I have the best one in mind

“”The apples you seek you shall never regard
For a dreadful serpent does that garden guard

“”Even gods have cause to it fear
Even they do never draw near

“”Only select few will it not strike
Only few faces does that serpent like

“”But Atlas, as he holds up Sky
He is one it will always let by

“”So you should off him for a time to relieve
So that for you he may the apples retrieve”

“Heracles will then consider his words
To fear a snake seemed truly absurd

“Will he not have killed two as a babe
But gods fear this one, so he’ll do as he bade

“”I’ll take your advice” he’ll say as he leaves
But many layered are the titan’s intrigues

“”Wait just a moment” he’ll call after him
“I’ve realized something that would make silence a sin

“”Although Atlas may seem exceptionally thick
He may still you successfully trick

“”For he does not enjoy what was set as his task
And he knows that you in true power bask

“”So if you he tries to leave you in his stead
Ask a reprieve to get a pad for your head”

“”From chains,” he’ll say, “you I’ll relieve
For your warning if he does me deceive”

“Thus off to Atlas Heracles did move
As Prometheus waited for his lot to improve

“Weeks he’ll wait with naught but a sound
Lying there – still chained to the ground

“But then, once more, will the hero appear
And then he’ll know that Freedom draws near

“”You were right,” he’ll say, “he’s unworthy of trust
So freeing you now is simply a must

“”Do not worry what my father will do
For that quandary I’ve well sorted through

“Cheiron’s knee was ruined by me
And he wishes, by Dis, to now be set free

“”In your place Zeus will penalize him
And with his death do all parties win”

“Then having spoke he’ll take the chains in his hand
He’ll break them apart and help the god stand

“So you see that no matter the pain
Freedom from suffering one may still gain”

By then they’d reached riverside
No matter what happened at least he had tried

But the very best words Charon did say
“Acheron says he’ll not keep you today”

With splendid elation he’ll be unable to speak
He’ll feel all at once both quite strong and quite weak

So with a friendly wave Orpheus left
And approached the door which from rock had been cleft

At the threshold he stood – the light shining through
He steadied his breath – he knew what to do

As into the sun, the daylight, he walked
He saw Charon there, leaned ‘gainst a black rock

“I’m sorry my friend but I like to deceive
Charon’s not real, there’s just Acheron, me

“But us you’ve convinced so now claim your prize
Look ‘pon your wife, who now is alive”

Such joy in his heart he never could hold
And he turned to his love, now to behold

But she was still on the stairs – not in the light
So she turned to stone, forever in plight

Orpheus stood in shock, disbelief
And Acheron laughed loudly at his horror and grief

“Cocytus” he said “I look ‘pon in disdain
I love who I am – I revel in pain”

But the bard could not listen to what he had said
All he could think was that his wife still was dead

Then Orpheus the god left behind
But another appeared, altogether more kind

Styx approached and put a hand on his arm
“Oh,” she said “I did wish you no harm

“I feel sorry for you but this I can’t mend
Only, to him, can I such sorrow send”

She too then left the poet alone
Alone with his wife who now was but stone

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