Siren’s Song by Wendy Flora

I sit among my rocks, waiting for the men to pass by.
The large rock by the door is scarred with my
Marks, a record of those I watched die
While my song rose to fill the sky.

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I pass by that rock every day, and I see
Only how many more marks there must be
Before my time is done, and I may leave
This rocky tower for the blue blue sea

I often wonder if these men ever, ever know
As their ship is dashed on the rocks below
That I do not hate them. Nay, I love them so . . .
These men who come, and yet too quickly go.

For it is lonely here day after passing day
Watching my only joy slip away
Beneath the waves as I turn to lay
My hand upon that rock so I do not sway

And turn to save the drowning men that I-
With my beauty which so pleased their eye
And the voice that lured them to my side-
Have broken and condemned to die.

Wendy Flora

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Why The Crow Is Black ( A Native American story)

In days long past, when the earth and the people on it were still young, all crows were white as snow.

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In those ancient times, the people had neither horses nor firearms nor weapons of iron. Yet they depended upon the buffalo hunt to give them enough food to survive. Hunting the big buffalo on foot with stone-tipped weapons was hard, uncertain, and dangerous. The crows made things even more difficult for the hunters, because they were friends of the buffalo. Soaring high above the prairie, they could see everything that was going on. Whenever they spied hunters approaching a buffalo herd, they flew to their friends and, perching between their horns, warned them: “Caw, caw, caw, cousins, hunters are coming. They are creeping up through that gully over there. They are coming up behind that hill. Watch out! Caw, caw, caw!” Hearing this, the buffalo would stampede, and the people starved.

The people held a council to decide what to do. Now, among the crows was a huge one, twice as big as all the others. This crow was their leader. One wise old chief got up and made this suggestion: “We must capture the big white crow,” he said, “and teach him a lesson. It’s either that or go hungry.”

He brought out a large buffalo skin, with the head and horns still attached. He put it on the back of a young brave, saying: “Nephew, sneak among the buffalo. They will think you are one of them, and you can capture the big white crow. “Disguised as a buffalo, the young man crept among the herd as if he were grazing. The big, shaggy beasts paid him no attention. Then the hunters marched out from their camp after him, their bows at the ready. As they approached the herd, the crows came flying, as usual, warning the buffalo: “Caw, caw caw, cousins, the hunters are coming to kill you. Watch out for their arrows. Caw, caw, caw!” and as usual, all the buffalo stampeded off and away:all, that is, except the young hunter in disguise under his shaggy skin, who pretended to go on grazing as before.

Then the big white crow came gliding down, perched on the hunter’s shoulders, and flapping his wings, said: “Caw, caw, caw, brother, are you deaf? The hunters are close by, just over the hill. Save yourself!” But the young brave reached out from under the buffalo skin and grabbed the crow by his legs. With a rawhide string he tied the big bird’s feet and fastened the other end to a stone. No matter how the crow struggled, he could not escape.

Again the people sat in a council. “What shall we do with the big, bad crow, who has made us go hungry again and again?” “I’ll burn him up!” answered one angry hunter, and before anybody could stop him, he yanked the crow from the hands of his captor and thrust it into the council fire ring, string, stone and all. “This will teach you,” he said. Of course, the string that held the stone burned through almost at once, and the big crow managed to fly out of the fire. But he was badly singed, and some of his feathers were charred. Though he was still big, he was no longer white. “Caw, caw, caw,” he cried, flying away as quickly as he could, “I’ll never do it again. “I’ll stop warning the buffalo, and so will all the Crow nation. I promise! Caw, caw, caw.” Thus the crow escaped. But ever since, all crows have been black.

The Perfidious Vizier ( An Arabian Tale)

A king of former times had an only son, whom he contracted in marriage to the daughter of another king. But the damsel, who was endowed with great beauty, had a cousin who had sought her in marriage, and had been rejected; wherefore he sent great presents to the vizier of the king just mentioned, requesting him to employ some stratagem by which to destroy his master’s son, or to induce him to relinquish the damsel. The vizier consented.

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Then the father of the damsel sent to the king’s son, inviting him to come and introduce himself to his daughter, to take her as his wife; and the father of the young man sent him with the treacherous vizier, attended by a thousand horsemen, and provided with rich presents. When they were proceeding over the desert, the vizier remembered that there was near unto them a spring of water called Ez-zahra, and that whosoever drank of it, if he were a man, became a woman.

He therefore ordered the troops to alight near it, and induced the prince to go thither with him. When they arrived at the spring, the king’s son dismounted from his courser, and washed his hands, and drank; and lo! he became a woman; whereupon he cried out and wept until he fainted. The vizier asked him what had befallen him, so the young man informed him; and on hearing his words, the vizier affected to be grieved for him, and wept. The king’s son then sent the vizier back to his father to inform him of this event, determining not to proceed nor to return until his affliction should be removed from him, or until he should die.

He remained by the fountain during a period of three days and nights, neither eating nor drinking, and on the fourth night there came to him a horseman with a crown upon his head, appearing like one of the sons of the kings. This horseman said to him, “Who brought you, O young man, unto this place?” So the young man told him his story; and when the horseman heard it, he pitied him, and said to him, “The vizier of thy father is the person who hath thrown thee into this calamity; for no one of mankind knoweth of this spring excepting one man.” Then the horseman ordered him to mount with him. He therefore mounted; and the horseman said to him, “Come with me to my abode: for thou art my guest this night.” The young man replied, “Inform me who thou art before I go with thee.” And the horseman said, I am the son of a king of the Jinn, and thou art son of a king of mankind. And now, be of good heart and cheerful eye on account of that which shall dispel thine anxiety and thy grief, for it is unto me easy.”

So the young man proceeded with him from the commencement of the day, forsaking his troops and soldiers (whom the vizier had left at their halting-place), and ceased not to travel on with his conductor until midnight, when the son of the king of the Jinn said to him, “Knowest thou what space we have traversed during this period?” The young man answered him, “I know not.”

The son of the king of the Jinn said, “We have traversed a space of a year’s journey to him who travelleth with diligence.” So the young man wondered thereat, and asked, “How shall I return to my family?” The other answered, “This is not thine affair. It is my affair; and when thou shalt have recovered from thy misfortune, thou shalt return to thy family in less time than the twinkling of an eye, for to accomplish that will be to me easy.” The young man, on hearing these words from the Jinnee, almost flew with excessive delight. He thought that the event was a result of confused dreams, and said, “Extolled be the perfection of him who is able to restore the wretched, and render him prosperous!” They ceased not to proceed until morning, when they arrived at a verdant, bright land, with tall trees, and warbling birds, and gardens of surpassing beauty, and fair palaces; and thereupon the son of the king of the Jinn alighted from his courser, commanding the young man also to dismount. He therefore dismounted, and the Jinnee took him by the hand, and they entered one of the palaces, where the young man beheld an exalted king and a sultan of great dignity, and he remained with them that day, eating and drinking, until the approach of night.

Then the son of the king of the Jinn arose and mounted with him, and they went forth, and proceeded during the night with diligence until the morning. And lo! they came to a black land, not inhabited, abounding with black rocks and stones, as though it were a part of hell; whereupon the son of the king of men said to the Jinnee, “What is the name of this land?” And he answered, “It is called the Dusky Land, and belongeth to one of the kings of the Jinn, whose name is Zu-l-Jenáheyn. None of the kings can attack him, nor doth any one enter his territory unless by his permission, so stop in thy place while I ask his permission.” Accordingly the young man stopped, and the Jinn was absent from him for a while, and then returned to him; and they ceased not to proceed until they came to a spring flowing from black mountains. The Jinnee said to the young man, “Alight.” He therefore alighted from his courser, and the Jinnee said to him, “Drink of this spring.”

The young prince drank of it, and immediately became again a man, as he was at first, by the power of God (whose name be exalted!), whereat he rejoiced with great joy, not to be exceeded. And he said to the Jinn, “O my brother, what is the name of this spring?” The Jinnee answered, “It is called the Spring of the Women: no woman drinketh of it but she becometh a man; therefore praise God, and thank Him for thy restoration, and mount thy courser.” So the king’s son prostrated himself, thanking God (whose name be exalted I).

Then he mounted, and they journeyed with diligence during the rest of the day until they had returned to the land of the Jinnee, and the young man passed the night in his abode in the most comfortable manner; after which they ate and drank until the next night, when the son of the king of the Jinn said to him, “Dost thou desire to return to thy family this night?” The young man answered, “Yes.” So the son of the king of the Jinn called one of his father’s slaves, whose name was Rájiz, and said to him, “Take this young man hence, and carry him upon thy shoulders, and let not the dawn overtake him before he is with his father-in-law and his wife.” The slave replied, “I hear and obey, and with feelings of love and honour will I do it.”

Then the slave absented himself for a while, and approached in the form of an ’Efreet. And when the young man saw him his reason fled, and he was stupefied; but the son of the king of the Jinn said to him, “No harm shall befall thee. Mount thy courser. Ascend upon his shoulders.” The young man then mounted upon the slave’s shoulders, and the son of the king of the Jinn said to him, “Close thine eyes.” So he closed his eyes, and the slave flew with him between heaven and earth, and ceased not to fly along with him while the young man was unconscious, and the last third of the night came not before he was on the top of the palace of his father-in-law. Then the ’Efreet said to him, “Alight.” He therefore alighted. And the ’Efreet said to him, “Open thine eyes; for this is the palace of thy father-in-law and his daughter.” Then he left him and departed.

And as soon as the day shone, and the alarm of the young man subsided, he descended from the roof of the palace; and when his father-in-law beheld him, he rose to him and met him, wondering at seeing him descend from the top of the palace, and he said to him, “We see other men come through the doors, but thou comest down from the sky.” The young man replied, “What God (whose perfection be extolled, and whose name be exalted!) desired hath happened.” And when the sun rose, his father-in-law ordered his vizier to prepare great banquets, and the wedding was celebrated; the young man remained there two months, and then departed with his wife to the city of his father. But as to the cousin of the damsel, he perished by reason of his jealousy and envy.

A Hymn To Venus by Sappho

O Venus, beauty of the skies,
To whom a thousand temples rise,
Gaily false in gentle smiles,
Full of love-perplexing wiles;
O goddess, from my heart remove
The wasting cares and pains of love.

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If ever thou hast kindly heard
A song in soft distress preferred,
Propitious to my tuneful vow,
A gentle goddess, hear me now.
Descend, thou bright immortal guest,
In all thy radiant charms confessed.

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Thou once didst leave almighty Jove
And all the golden roofs above:
The car thy wanton sparrows drew,
Hovering in air they lightly flew;
As to my bower they winged their way
I saw their quivering pinions play.

The birds dismissed (while you remain)
Bore back their empty car again:
Then you, with looks divinely mild,
In every heavenly feature smiled,
And asked what new complaints I made,
And why I called you to my aid?

What frenzy in my bosom raged,
And by what cure to be assuaged?
What gentle youth I would allure,
Whom in my artful toils secure?
Who does thy tender heart subdue,
Tell me, my Sappho, tell me who?

Though now he shuns thy longing arms,
He soon shall court thy slighted charms;
Though now thy offerings he despise,
He soon to thee shall sacrifice;
Though now he freezes, he soon shall burn,
And be thy victim in his turn.

Celestial visitant, once more
Thy needful presence I implore.
In pity come, and ease my grief,
Bring my distempered soul relief,
Favour thy suppliant’s hidden fires,
And give me all my heart desires.

by Sappho

Apollo And The Fall Of Phaeton( A Greek Myth)

Apollo was one of the greatest gods of ancient Greek mythology. One of the stories about him concerns his human son Phaeton. Each morning Phaeton’s mother, Clymene would point out to the boy the rising of the sun and it’s passing through the sky. This was his father Apollo riding a chariot through the sky. However so magnificent were Clymene’s descriptions of Apollo that Phaeton became very conceited, boasting loudly and often of his divine parentage.

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Sir Peter Paul Rubens (artist)
Flemish, 1577 – 1640
The Fall of Phaeton, c. 1604/1605, probably reworked c. 1606/1608
oil on canvas

Tired of these boasts Phaeton’s playmates urged him to provide proof. Stung by their insults Phaeton learned from his mother how to find Apollo and then set out after the god. When he finally encountered Apollo he timidly entered his presence, and, encouraged by Apollo, poured out his story. As soon as he finished Apollo swore a solemn oath that he would grant his son any proof he wished. He had but to ask.

And ask Phaeton did. He asked permission to drive the sun chariot that very day, sure that his friends would see him and be convinced that Apollo was his father. Apollo was dismayed. Patiently he explained to Phaeton that the four fiery steeds would be beyond Phaeton’s control, that he would kill himself if he tried to drive the chariot. He begged Phaeton to select another proof.

But Phaeton refused to budge from his original request. He wanted to drive the sun chariot, and because Apollo had sworn an oath he could not deny the boy. The hour came when the fiery steeds were ready to go forth. Apollo anointed his son with a cooling oil to protect him from the suns harsh rays, gave him directions, and urged him to watch the steeds with the greatest care, especially to use the whip sparingly as the horses were inclined to be very restive.

Phaeton impatiently listened then leaped into the chariot. For an hour or two he paid heed to his father’s advice and all went well. But, growing overconfident and reckless he drove the horses faster and faster and lost his way. In getting back to course he drove too close to the earth, with disastrous results. The plants shrivelled up, the fountains and rivers went dry, the earth was blackened, and even the people in the land over which he drove were blackened.

Terrified at what he’d done Phaeton drove so far away that all the vegetation which had survived the scorching died on account of the sudden cold.

The people of earth cried out so loudly that the supreme god, Jupiter, was aroused form his sleep. Surveying what had been done he grew furious, took a lightning bolt and hurled it at the conceited Phaeton, killing him instantly.

Phaeton demonstrates the way of foolishness. Refusing to listen to the wiser counsel of others, fools rush headlong on their way, giving little thought to the possible consequences and so often finding themselves stranded in disaster.

Source: Reported in Guerber, The Myths of Greece and Rome

The Story Of Pandora ( A Greek Myth)

According to a ancient Greek story, the first woman was named Pandora. She was made in heaven, every god contributing something to perfect her. Venus gave her beauty, Mercury persuasion, Apollo music, etc. Thus equipped, she was conveyed to earth, and presented to Epimetheus, who gladly accepted her, though cautioned by his brother to beware of Jupiter and his gifts. Epimetheus had in his house a jar, in which were kept certain noxious articles for which, in fitting man for his new abode, he had had no occasion.

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Pandora was seized with an eager curiosity to know what this jar contained; and one day she slipped off the cover and looked in. Forthwith there escaped a multitude of plagues for hapless man,- such as gout, rheumatism, and colic for his body, and envy, spite, and revenge for his mind,- and scattered themselves far and wide.

Pandora hastened to replace the lid! but, alas! the whole contents of the jar had escaped, one thing only excepted, which lay at the bottom, and that was hope. So we see at this day, whatever evils are abroad, hope never entirely leaves us; and while we have that, no amount of other ills can make us completely wretched.

A Myth About Ostriches

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It is a myth that Ostriches bury their heads in the sand when they sense danger. Ostriches do not stick their heads in the sand when threatened. Actually they don’t bury their heads at all. When threatened, ostriches flop on the ground and play dead or lie low and press their long necks to the ground in an attempt to become less visible. Their plumage blends well with sandy soil and, from a distance, gives the appearance that they have buried their heads in the sand.

Ostriches can also live for 75 years and reproduce for 50years.