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Harvest: An Homage to Demeter and Persephone — Two Books and a Stray Sonnet Sequence

Multi-colored abstract of popy, cover of book
At last the Father of the Gods sent Hermes to fetch Persephone back to earth, on condition that she had eaten nothing while in the kingdom of Pluto. Alas that very day she had tasted six seeds of a pomegranate…Again Demeter cursed and pleaded, until Zeus finally decided that Persephone might return to her mother, but that for each seed she had eaten she must spend one month in the Underworld…

The Poppy and the Pomegranate: The Story of Demeter and Persephone or the Origin of the Seasons
Rigby Graham (1931-2015)
Leicester: Grange Fibre, 1962
PA4025 Z6 G7 1962

Based on Homer’s “Hymnus in cererum.” Rigby Graham was a landscape artist and muralist in the British romantic tradition. He was noted for his architectural sense of design structure and his vivid use of color. In the 1960s and 1970s, his illustrated many books for private fine art presses. Printed by seven color offset lithography. Decorated paper cover design by Rigby Graham. Cloth blocked covers are white buckram Lonson with Lonson Vellum spine. Rare Books copy gift of Gabriel Rummonds.

spread, text with vignettes at top,bottom, recto full-page engraving in purple
To her horror, as the plant came out of the ground a loud rumbling noise of chariot wheels was heard, and from the earth beneath her feet rode forth the God of the Underworld…Seizing the beautiful girl, he struck the ground with his forked spear and the chariot swept back to Hades.

spread with text on verso topped by wood engraving colored yellow, verso is full-page wood engraving in purple
All Demeter’s concern was for her missing daughter, and she no longer watched over the crops or blessed the fruitful land. Her tears fell as a blight on all living things, she cursed the earth that had swallowed up her daughter, the trees shed their leaves, and men and beasts starved and died.

spread with pink over printed pagesDemeter: “I really cannot bear to think about it.”
Persephone: “Kiss me again.”

The Gods
Ron Koertge (b. 1940)
Alhambra, CA: Ophelia Press, 2017
N7433.4 S815 G64 2017

Poet Ron Koertge reconsiders the enduring myths of the Greek gods in a contemporary context and upends traditional narratives. Zeus, Hera, Demeter, Persephone, Dionysus, and others expose their vulnerabilities and acknowledge their surprisingly human shortcomings and longings. Koertge is the author of several novels, two of which were selected as American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults. He is a two-time winner of the PEN literary Award for Children’s Literature.

The imagery, including slithering serpents and a blood-stained river, are hand cut from Tengucho and Yatsuo kozo papers made in Kochi and Toyama Prefectures, Japan. Fuchsia and plum-colored papers interspersed throughout are handmade in Nepal from the lokta plant. Typeface is Dante, designed by Giovanni Mardersteig and cast by the Letterfoundry of Michael and Winifred Bixler in Skaneateles, New York. The poems are hand set and letterpress printed in two colors on dampened Rives Heavyweight from the Arches paper mill in France. The book is quarter cloth and sewn through the spine. Red kyoseishi from Tokushima Prefecture covers the boards. The spine is iridescent gold-copper cloth from Japan; the thread is red Irish linen. Designed, handset, printed, illustrated and bound by Farida Baldonado Sunada. This is her first book. Edition of fifty copies, signed by the poet and the printer.

spread with "Demeter"
spread with "Persephone"

Schizophrenia as Hades
A Sonnet Sequence


She returns like someone whose tongue was cut,
A traveler stricken dumb. She carries back
No tales to betray the long, uncharted track
That vanished underneath her advancing foot.
At home nowhere, she’s a plant without root,
A bird with no branch. Here she feels some lack,
Some unnamed need. But still her silent, slack
Mouth keeps the secret of what makes her mute.
That land of hers, I try to find the place,

Obliquely breathe its dark, inadequate air,
Imagine the maps of its misleading space,
Picture strange landmarks and the disrepair
Of monuments. But I never glimpse the face
Of that implacable king who keeps her there.


Yes, it was dark. There was a certain smell.
Perpetual temblor rumbled in the ear.
That much was true. So strange were seasons here
That only mineral bloomed. They’d call it Hell.
At first she’d flailed at fate for what befell.
Dragged down to strange terrain she fought, knew fear,
And then…but her return to light was near.
What could she tell them? I was treated well.

In his black stare she hefted the bright fruit.
What sun, what leaf, what nondescript desires
Had lured her upward once, what nebulous lack?
(No doubt about it, she would miss the brute.)
She stood cool in the subterranean fires
And ate the seven seeds. She’d be back.

Luise Putcamp jr.

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