ORPHEUS CONSIDERS HIS APPROACH
A three-headed dog named Cerberus guards
the opposite shore of Styx, ready to devour
living intruders or ghostly fugitives.
-Robert Graves, The Greek Myths
As one comes to wolves. Song of canine bodies
circling through the pines. Aria of bone-gnaw,
of driven snow in Caucasus, of sweet, sweet marrow.
Song of lip-curl, of incisors, of gritted teeth and snarl.
Whimpered song of bitch-and-den, song of musk,
of tongued pups, of burrow thick with steam.
Song of fire, circle-song, beaten onto skins. Song of meat,
of shearling, of bloody coals and cinders, song of hellish fleas.
Ballad of hound-hunger, of want; song that calms the dog.
In the stony deep, Oh! Are lesser gods, the stink of sulphur,
and the spirits of the dead. The hound is chained or else
the hound runs loose. I have sung my way through darkness
and wait upon the shore with open palms.
Oh, dog, dog, dog. What song must I sing to get by thee?
"Cerberus" (above) is by William Blake