March 14th, 2012
And the letter this week is I
How about I is for Ianthe
John William Godward
Ianthe was as Cretan girl, so beautiful that when she died the Gods made
purple flowers grow around her grave.
She was betrothed to Iphis, a woman raised as a man who also fell in love
with Ianthe and prayed to the gods to allow the two woman to marry.
She was changed by Isis into a man and became Ianthe's husband.
Here are three small poems by Walter Savage Landor, 1775-1864
Your pleasures spring like daisies in the grass,
Cut down and up again as blithe as ever,
From you, Ianthe, little troubles pass
Like little ripples in a sunny river.
Do you remember me? or are you proud?
Lightly advancing thro' her star-trimmed crowd.
Ianthe said, and look'd into my eyes
'A yes, a yes to both for Memory
Where you but once have been must ever be,
And at your voice Pride from his throne must rise'
Soon, O Ianthe! Life is O'er
Soon, O Ianthe! life is o'er,
And sooner beauty's heavenly smile:
Grant only (and I ask no more),
Let love remain that little while.
In reading about Ianthe I have come to the conclusion that her beauty was the muse for many men who used her name to describe the women they loved. And I am also made aware of how ancient
is the idea of 'gender-bending'.......
For more takes on the letter I visit here at Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday,
an Ideal meme.