The Island and the Swallow


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This is a etiology I had to write for my Mythology class. Through the process of metamorphosis, it explains how the island in Island Lake on the Grand Mesa National Monument came to be, as well as the birth of the purple and green swallow. I always loved the lake as a kid and thought there was something magical about it its waters. As I've grown, it has become a refuge - a place to sink and emerge anew. 

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The Island and the Swallow

Young Aoede, fair singer with waving brunette locks,

Lie in wrenching pain,

Punishment from her abusive lover, Boanerges,

Strong handed ruler and favorite of Zeus,

Whose voice was like thunder,

His actions unquestioned,

Less the king of the gods strike down the aggregator.

He came often, Boanerges,

Sweaty and yearning her flesh,

His hands were not gentle,

It was a blessing she could bare him,

But when she refused,

The beating was most violent and cruel,

Pale in comparison to the torture of Tartarus,

Surpassed only by time,

But she was wed unto him for all her mortal life,

With only her woven lyrics to console her broken body.

Forcefully acknowledging she must escape,

Aoede, whose green eyes still shone with a glimmer of hope,

Fled to the flat top mountain due East,

Where golden Apollo arose every morning,

Chariot ablaze with the promise of a new day.

In the serenity of the woods,

Aoede sang out to the virgin Artemis,

Protector of the innocent, goddess of the hunt,

 For she knew Boanerges would not let her keep her liberty,

 And soon he’d call out to the champion of lightning and take off with his hounds,

 “Dear mother of my innocence,

 So harshly stolen from me,

 I come to seek the protection of your bow,

 The agile skills, which you grant your deer,

 So that I may live among these woods like a free song bird,

 And never know the destructive hands of man again,

 Boanerges, my forceful lover and favorite of Zeus,

 Has made my body ache for the purity of my virginity long lost.”

 Hearing beautiful Aoede’s desperate plea,

 Artemis, sliver eyes glimmering with tears,

 Led her to the lake, where she bathed her as a virgin,

 And cleansed her from the scars the brute Boanerges had left in love.

 He was not far behind though, wretched Boanerges.

 Zeus, filled with violent lust himself,

 Granted Boanerges and his hounds the speed of his golden eagle,

 With which they fled up the flat top mountain due East,

 To reclaim the fair singer Aoede.

 She heard the wails of the hounds much too late, poor Aoede,

 Whom fate seemed to hate,

 Perhaps for her beauty, but more likely for her voice,

 And as fortune would have it,

 Artemis was off tending the hunt when Boanerges arrived.

Fleeing in a blind fury,

 Aoede plunged into the lake Artemis had bathed her,

 But she swam much too far,

 And realizing her strength was waning,

 She sang out one last time to the fair goddess who had given her life again,

“Dear mother of my innocence,

As the depths of this lake take my breath,

May I forever be in your debt,

And may those like me,

Whose lovers turn violent with lust,

Find a place of refuge from whence they may reclaim innocence.”

As her last words echoed through the mountains,

Artemis, nimble and quick,

Fled to the lake to see the brunette locks of Aoede slip beneath the surface.

Struck with grief, the virgin goddess cried out to the nymphs of the lake,

The spirits of the water rose with the lifeless body of Aoede,

Whose green eyes still shown with that glimmer of hope.

Artemis then granted the fair lady’s wish,

So that her death would not be in vain,

 And from her bones Artemis did form an island in the lake,

Where Aoede was both cleansed and unfairly taken away,

So that the broken lovers of lustful husbands could always find a place to escape.

And high above, Apollo,

Gleaming twin of Artemis, who saw all she saw and more,

Sang with his golden tongue,

In memory of the sweet words Aoede once sang,

And from his lyrical composition appeared a swallow,

Purple and green,

A symbol of passionate song,

A remembrance of Aoede’s hopeful eyes,

That landed on a tree sprouting in the middle of the island,

To serve as a beacon call,

It’s chirp shrill, but beautiful all the same.

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