Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

(1844-1911 / Andover, Massachusetts)

Atalanta - Poem by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

Atalanta and I know better!
Distrust you the fable of old,
Of the envious Goddess who set her
On to defeat by tempting her soul
With the wily bright roll
Of an apple of treacherous gold.

Distrust the story which tells you
She loitered with willing, shy feet.
A doubt on the myth which compels you
Ever to dream that she lingered to lose
In the race, or to choose
In Love's contest an easy defeat!

She never could linger, no, never!
To help poor Hippomenes by!
Fleet-footed, stern-hearted, forever,
She keeps to the goal. Let him win if he can!
If he be not the man
Born for winning, why then let him die!

The fable was twisted! I plant a
Firm foot of assurance on this.
Some woman-but not Atalanta-
Lingered to lose; and stooped to enhance
By a sweet trick the chance
Of being defeated by bliss!

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010

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