The Quest


...for each of us has a Golden Fleece to seek,
and a wild sea to sail over ere we reach it,
and dragons to fight ere it be ours.
The Heroes, Charles Kingsley


And so we set out, heading for the Hellespont
and beyond—past the clashing rocks
towards the mist-filled darkness of the Eastern Sea
and the landscapes of the heart.
And, my child, we made it. We faced
the fire of the bulls’ breath,
the men who sprang from serpents’ teeth and were mown down
in the field of the war-god.
We broke into the garden.

“The rest”, we thought, “is easy.” But when we saw
the snake basking in the sunlight
at the foot of the tree we shivered, and gazed into its stare
with awe.
And with a horror so deep it dazed us. In its eyes
we saw ourselves—we couldn’t... No,
we couldn’t kill it. We lulled the beast to sleep
and took the Golden Fleece
like thieves.

Pavlos Andronikos

Published in Outrider vol. 4, no. 2 (Dec. 1987), p. 129.
For an intriguing take on this poem, see “Transformative Identities of Literary
Multiculturalism” by Manfred Jurgensen in Southerly, Mar 22, 1999.