Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
VI. Demeter and Cora
By Dora Greenwell (1821–1882)
“SPEAK, daughter, speak; art speaking now?”
“Seek, mother, seek; art seeking thou
Thy dear-loved Cora?” “Daughter sweet,
I bend unto the earth my ear
To catch the sound of coming feet;        5
I listen long but only hear
The deep, dark waters running clear.”
“Oh! my great mother, now the heat
Of thy strong heart in thickened beat
Hath reached thy Cora in her gloom,        10
Is’t well with thee, my Mother—tell?”
“Is’t well with thee, my daughter?” “Well
Or ill I know not; I through fate
Queen of a wide unmeasured tomb
Know not if it be love or hate        15
That holds me fast, but I am bound
For ever! What if I am found
Of thee, my mother, still the bars
Are round me, and the girdling night
Hath passed within my soul! the stars        20
Have risen on me, but the light
Hath gone for ever.” “Daughter, tell,
Doth thy dark lord, the King of Hell,
Still love thee?” “Oh, too well, too well
He loves! he binds with unwrought chain.        25
I was not born to be thy mate,
Aïdes! nor the Queen of pain:
I was thy daughter Cora, vowed
To gladness in thy world above,
I loved the daffodil, I love        30
All lovely, free and gentle things
Beloved of thee! a sound of wings
Is with me in captivity,
Of birds, and bees, with her that sings
The shrill Cicula, ever gay        35
In noon’s white heat.” “But, daughter, say
Dost love Aïdes?” “Now, too bold
Thy question, mother; this be told,
I leave him not for love, for gold,
One lot we share, one life we know.        40
The Lord is he of wealth and rest,
As well as king of death and pain;
He folds me to a kingly breast,
He yields to me a rich domain.
I leave him not for aught above,        45
For any God’s unsteadfast love
Or fairest mortal-form below;
Thou hast left heaven for earth; and thou
For thy poor Cora’s sake, self-driven,
Hast fled its sunny heights in scorn        50
And hate, of Zeus unforgiven!
Do mortals love thee?” “Daughter, yea.
They call me their great mother. Corn
And wine I give them when they pray;
Their love for me their little day        55
Of life lasts out; perchance they knew
It was not love for them that drew
Me down to wander where the vine
Is sweet to me, and breath of kine.
Art listening now, my Cora dear?        60
Art listening now, my child,—art near?
Oh, that thy kiss upon my cheek
Were warm! thy little hand in mine
Once more! Yet, let me hear thee speak,
And tell me of that garden rare,        65
And of thy flowers, dark, fiery, sweet,
That never breathe the upper air.”
“Oh, mother, they are fair, are fair;
Large-leaved are they, large-blossomed, frail,
And beautiful. No vexing gale        70
Comes ever nigh them; fed with fire,
They kindle in a torch-like flame
Half ecstasy, half tender shame
Of bloom that must so soon expire.
But, mother, tell me of the wet        75
Cool primrose! of the lilac-bough
And its warm gust of rapture, met
In summer days!—art listening yet?”
“Art near me, O my Cora, now?”

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