Monday, March 31, 2014

The Voyages of Orion

The Voyages of Orion

By Charles Moffat - March 2014

Zeus, Poseidon and Hades went to visit an old hermit and a great hunter.
The hermit was Hyrieus of Tanagra, and when they arrived they were struck by hunger.
Seeing it was a cold night Hyrieus butchered a whole bull.
He then cooked it olives and served it until the gods were full.

Each god was pleased and asked Hyrieus what was his desire.
A lonely hermit am I, he said. The only wish I have is a son to share my fire.
So the three gods placed their seed upon the bull's hide.
They bade him bury it and to return in ten months during high tide.

Hyrieus did as he was told and returned to find a boy as giant as can be.
Orion the Earth Born he was called and he was as tall as a tree.
He grew up fast too, long before Hyrieus died of old age.
Having such a big son proved a great boon to the ancient sage.

Orion loved to hunt and to fish, he excelled at everything his father taught him.
He could run, he could fight, he could string great bows and he could swim.
So tall was he did not really need to swim, he could wade through deep water up to his neck.
No ship could hold Orion, he would just break it and crash through its flimsy deck.

Although handsome, the most handsome of all Earth Born, Orion was lonely.
Many people feared his great size and although kind, he was often solitary.
So he prayed to Artemis and sacrificed a bear, asking for a fine hunting companion.
The goddess smiled upon him and sent Sirius, a small dog full of brawn.

Together Orion and Sirius traveled wide and far, hunting together, giant and dog.
They hunted ferocious lions, noble stags, huge krakens and dangerous warthogs.
Sirius was Orion's fearless companions, never afraid of even the largest monsters.
When walking through the seas Orion carried Sirius on his huge shoulders.

On one such voyage Orion walked to the peaceful island of Chios, home of Oenopion.
There he drank with the locals, drinking as much wine as could be found in the Aegean.
While thus besotted he spotted Merope, a beautiful young maiden with hair so fair.
But he forgot his size and in his haste attacked her while she was unaware.

Oenopion saw the great giant trying to rape his daughter and drew his sword.
Giant or no giant, Oenopion drove his sword into Orion's eyes and tied him with strong cord.
Sirius's barking alerted Orion to his danger and he burst from his bindings and fled.
Into the see he stumbled, the great giant's eyes streaming blood red.

Blinded Orion fled across the sea and lost himself in the waves.
Unsure of his direction he went east, the sun on his face until he reached caves.
There on the Isle of Lemnos he met Hephaestus, the Great Smith.
Malformed, Hephaestus knew loneliness and sorrow, so he bade Cedalion go with.

With Cedalion on one shoulder and Sirius on the other, the trio journeyed East.
They passed on their way mountains and seas and many a great beast.
Until at last they passed beyond the Earth to the abode of the Sun.
Here the god Helios healed Orion and the giant hooted, hollered and went into a run.

With Cedalion and Sirius he ran across the waves, returning to the Isle of Lemnos.
From there he continued his journey, back to seek vengeance on the island of Chios.
Oenopion saw the giant returning and decided to hide deep in the earth.
There he beseeched Mother Earth, asking her to take back what she had given birth.

She took pity on the poor man and sent a lowly scorpion to sting Orion.
Many beast Orion had killed, everything from kraken to hydra and lion.
He didn't even see the scorpion beneath his great bulk, but Sirius did.
The dog barked and barked frantically, but Orion could not see it under the rocks it hid.

When the scorpion struck Orion was confused at first. He could not see any foe.
Although he could see he was blinded by his own size. He stumbled to and fro.
When he struck the ground, his head landed sideways and he saw at last the creature.
"Fie you monster! I thought I had bested every beast, but lo you are a fine teacher!"

And so Orion died and Sirius howled in his sadness. Howled hard and long.
Artemis heard the dog's cries and asked Zeus where such a loyal dog should belong.
So Zeus raised Orion up to the heavens and placed Sirius there beside him.
But he also raised up the scorpion, as a warning to those who act on a drunken whim.


Charles Moffat's poetry is also available on Kobo: a dream of unfettered roses

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