Athene Revisited review

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Athene Revisited - Collected Poems by Asphodel P. Long.
P. Lal of Lake Gardens, Calcutta, India, 1999
Review by Mary Billy.

It was with great joy I received the book Athene Revisited - Collected Poems by Asphodel Long in this "handloom sari cloth woven and designed" edition as a gift from Willow. At the time, she suggested I review it for Goddessing, however two things intervened (well, at least two). I moved, and so took a long time to get around to reading it with a reviewer's eye; when I did, I was so moved by the depth of the work, I wasn't sure I had either the talent or ability to give it its due.

Asphodel Long has been yet one more woman I have long admired, ever since reading previous work by her in Goddessing Regenerated.

Athene Revisited is an intriguing body of work and each time I read the poems I find more and/or different things in them. I trust you will understand that this is just a sketch and that holding the book in one's hands is also part of the connection, due to the care taken in its making.

It is appropriately dedicated "to the Furies." To me, It is about movement and change of time, and life, all punctuated with the cycles of Nature: birdsong, flowers, the vagaries of weather, and the movement of sun and light as days progress.

In reading these poems even silently to myself, I feel my voice deepen to that level of profundity used by great orators, and that I always recognize as The Wise Woman. Their richness engraves itself on my heart.

For example, from the poem "The Past is Present":

"The past is present and no mystery
Change, like landscape, still retains the same/contours, bases, roots and certainty."

Nature is described so simply and yet so definitively, in so few words, that magic unfolds on the page. You see the poppies dance suddenly

"In the sunlight against the green verges
Burning out under a skylark's exaltations
While the delicate scabious curtsied, and the huge white daisies nodded
and small lizards darted as they heard a footstep."

So much put into five lines. A whole day could go by to see so much, and yet here it is all of a piece. And every woman should read "If Women Could Speak, What Language Would they Choose." I have to share the last few stanzas:

Women, defend me
I am the dark river bearing your flowers.
Defend me.

I am the night where the dead live,
The luminous heart of the dark
Where glistens a whirl of day,
Defend me.

Your voice is my seed of creation
That I dropped into the garden,

Your voice is the cauldron
That brews knowledge,

Your voice is the satisfied sigh of a contented child;
The volcano of ecstasy;

Your voice that speaks In language
(That all understand)
Defends me.

Brings me up through the thick earth to smile on my Daughters,
Who are me.

Blessed be.

Blessed Be indeed. This is womanly poetry, of great insight and wonder at the ways of life and death and Nature, of the words the world has used and abused women, of our ever rising to life again, to joy and celebration of ourselves, to our wisdom. This wonderful book of poetry is a treasure, to be enjoyed again and again.

Mary Billy, Goddessing Regenerated, issue 14, 2001

Athene Revisited is available from: The Luna Press, P.O. Box 15511, Kenmore Station, Boston, MA 02215-0009 USA. (617) 427-9846 / website: ($13 plus + $5 postage in U.S.)


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