UNNIKRISHNAN E S
Prometheus's Liver - Poem by UNNIKRISHNAN E S
Until Prometheus divulged the secret of Fire
Man was scared of the darkness of night
When the Nightlamp was not lit in the sky.
He was equally fearful of the wintry days
When in the cold nights the bone-chilling cold wind
Blew incessantly from the west.
Moon was no longer mere Nightlamp.
She was elevated to the godly benefactor
The provider of water, food, love and progeny.
She was also the heavenly lover of all seas.
Her benevolence to earthlings were abundant
Never turned her face away from them.
She was identified as the keeper of time.
Lunar calendars were all designed on her cycles,
Though days and hours were counted as sun rose or set.
With fire came light and warmth and taste of cooked food.
But man continued to wonder how, like Prometheus's liver,
Moon waned in a fortnight and waxed to her fullest in the next!
Then she was recognised as a mere satellite of earth,
Sharply disgraced from the esteemed Queen of Stars;
And they alleged, she has a not-so-fair facade
Which she always chose to hide from all.
She had to succumb to the might of man.
Like Mahabali, man (or Vaman?)set his foot on her head
And pushed her down from her abode among the stars
To Hades, and placed her there among the lesser mortals.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
1. Queen of Stars: Taradhipa in Sanskrit
2. Mahabali and Vaman: The legend goes thus:
Mahabali was an Asura King, ruling over the entire earth. A great ruler he was. Under his regime, all men were equal. Nobody uttered a lie or even thought of cheating others. All were happy and there was no greed, corruption or ill will. Mahabali was god to them. Naturally, Gods got jealous as men no longer worshipped them. Vishnu, the Supreme God took avatar as Vaman (the dwarf)and approached Mahabali for a space of three feet, to sit down in penance. Mahabali granted the request, upon which Vamana grew in size to that of a giant and in one foot, measured the entire earth.
"Now what? "he asked Mahabali.
Mahabali bowed his head before him. Vamana put his foot on Mahabali's head and pushed him to Paatala (Hades) .
Aside: People of Kerala celebrate Onam, based on this legend, on the day Mahabali comes back from Paatala every year to visit his people.
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