To Haides

Hail to you Haides,
somber Lord of the silent lands,
where the chthonic Nymphs dance
on the shores of the Stygian river,
and the souls of great men dwell in gloom,
dreaming of their days upon the earth
when the Sun shone warmly on their faces.
You see all that transpires in your shadowy realm,
as you sit on your basalt throne
and stroke the shaggy heads of the fearsome hound.
The only light that you tolerate
are the gleaming cheeks of your bride,
pale like the moon on a clear summer’s night.
And her sweet smile is the only thing
capable of warming your heart:
otherwise you are cold and still
like the murky depths of the Styx.
But you are not a cruel God:
not once has Haides closed his doors to a suppliant soul.
You give shelter to all, regardless of their fame or fortune in life.
And to many, death’s oblivion comes as a welcome balm,
soothing their suffering and making an end to heartache.
Though you surround yourself with sterility,
you are in truth the Fertile One,
your black head crowned with myrtle
and holding plump grapes in your palm.
You nourish the seed that is planted in the earth,
and send forth ripe fruit in due season.
Without the first burial there could be no life –
and the second burial ensures the promise of future wealth.
So hail to you Haides, elder brother of Zeus,
worthy of equal honors to those of the Heavenly King.
Regardless of how much you’re worshiped here and now,
in time all men come to make offerings at your altar
and hail you as Lord and unrivaled Master.

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