Wednesday, 8 November 2017


“Absolute silence leads to sadness. It is the image of death.” - Jean-Jacques Rousseau 

For this week’s theme Poets United has set its Midweek Motif as “Silence”. My poem refers to two Hellenistic gods: Harpocrates and Hermes – in case your mythology is rusty, here is what they stood for. 

Harpocrates (Ancient Greek: Ἁρποκράτης) was the god of silence, secrets and confidentiality in the Hellenistic religion developed in Ptolemaic Alexandria (and also an embodiment of hope, according to Plutarch). Harpocrates was adapted by the Greeks from the Egyptian child god Horus. To the ancient Egyptians, Horus represented the newborn sun, rising each day at dawn. When the Greeks conquered Egypt under Alexander the Great, they transformed the Egyptian Horus into the Hellenistic god known as Harpocrates, a rendering from Egyptian Har-pa-khered or Heru-pa-khered (“Horus the Child”). 

Hermes (Greek: Ἑρμῆς) is an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia, and the second youngest of the Olympian gods (Dionysus being the youngest). Hermes was the emissary and messenger of the gods. Hermes was also “the divine trickster” and “the god of boundaries and the transgression of boundaries, ... the patron of herdsmen, thieves, graves, and heralds.” He is described as moving freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, and was the conductor of souls into the afterlife. He was also viewed as the protector and patron of roads and travellers.

During Classical and Hellenistic Greece he is usually depicted young and nude, with athleticism, as befits the god of speech and of the gymnastics. When represented as Logios (Greek: Λόγιος, speaker), his attitude is consistent with the attribute, his hands often in an eloquent gesture. 

Silence Befits Harpocrates

O, Horus Child; O, Sun of dawn,
Who by the shores of mighty Nile
You grow into virile manhood,
My forebears dubbed you Harpocrates,
For your Egyptian name was too rough
For their silvery, slippery tongues.

You stand and look at me smiling,
And unlike your children friends
You hold your tongue,
Though all you know, all you’ve seen;
And yet you talk not, you keep my secrets
Betrayer you are not, my loyal friend.

Harpocrates (I too, prefer this name of yours),
You weave fine wreaths of fragrant roses
And even if sharp thorn draws blood
From your pricked finger, you let it flow
And not a word escapes your lips,
No cry of pain, no sigh of fierce frustration.

I shall my lover call Harpocrates, after you,
For he too stays silent, (too silent for my liking),
And he too betrays no confidence,
(Even his own to me he will not give);
I tell all, confide in him and expect in return a flood of words,
But like you Harpocrates, all he does is smile – silently…

To Hermes Logios I shall sacrifice three nightingales,
And hope that he will give you more words than I need;
For while Harpocrates is a fine god for friends,
I’d rather model my lover after Hermes, whose eloquence
I want filling my voids with wise words, small talk, poetry,
Entreaties, vows, idle prattle, and even more vital,
Words of love, sweet talk of passion, nothings of fond affection…


  1. Absolutely gorgeous! Love this Greek air! "To Hermes Logios I shall sacrifice three nightingales, /
    And hope that he will give you more words than I need;" Wow!!!

  2. Haha! Well done mythologizing of the need for communication within relationship. It implies criticism, but makes it clear that you are are blessed to consort with the gods.

  3. I love the sacrificing of the three nightingales in hopes of receiving more words than you need. A very fine write.

  4. A very interesting and fine write. Greek and Egyptian myths all rolled into one.

  5. Nicholas,
    I like how you drew upon a combination of Greek and Egyptian mythologies to illlustrate your poem.
    A fantastic response to the theme of silence..I particularly like romantic silences and how they can be later transferred into whispers..Extremely interesting:)

  6. "I shall sacrifice three nightingales,
    And hope that he will give you more words than I need" Stunning
    Fantastic poem which gives some respect to silence but prefers the many different forms of communication

  7. Fine write.
    Silence often speaks more than a multitude of words...
    Anna :o]

  8. Nice historical and Greek connections. Communication is essential in healthy relationships. I wonder how many are out there starving for conversation or some form of communication in their relationship.