Mnemosyne by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Mellifluous rhymes I once strung
Like notes on a music staff’s rung,
Until I perceived
A voice so aggrieved  
I wondered from whom it had sprung.

Its siren-like keening suppressed
Euterpe’s twin flutes, yet—obsessed—
I struggled to trace
And later did chase
That dirge down to Hell in my quest.

Past Hades’ black gates the voice surged,
When deep beneath caverns emerged
A river enshrined,
That knew my fraught mind.
“Forget. Drink from Lethe,” she urged.

Enchanted by whom I had found
I readily dropped to the ground.
In haste, like a fool
I drank from her pool,
Then fainted, oblivion-bound.

I forfeited all that I’d been,
Forgot the last decade wherein
Stanzaic formed lines
In fours, fives, and nines
Once flowed from my Muse-inspired pen.

My consciousness centered instead
On work-focused labors that bled
Past artistry dry.
No longer could I
Compose any metrical thread.

I languished in Hades for years
While Lethe’s bleak waves lapped my tears.
But just when it seemed
I’d not be redeemed
A river nearby doused my fears.

Adjacent to Lethe she flowed,
And claimed that while Lethe bestowed
Oblivion’s gift
On ghosts caught adrift,
Mnemosyne traveled Truth’s road.

“I’m Memory’s river of blue,
But mother to nine Muses too.
Euterpe’s my child.
Such verse you once styled!
Remember, lost soul, lest you rue.”

Her waves spawned an elegant maid
Who clutched two auloi, their pipes splayed.
No longer a fool,
I drank from her pool,
Reclaiming the muse I’d mislaid.

Mindy Watson

If you have any thoughts on this poem, Mindy Watson would be pleased to hear them.