Monday, September 19, 2011

Pomona

I am the ancient Apple Queen,
As once I was so am I now.
For evermore a hope unseen,
Betwixt the blossom and the bough.
Ah, where's the river's hidden Gold!
And where the windy grave of Troy?
Yet come I as i came of old,
From out the heart of summer's joy."
--William Morris--


The Roman goddess, Pomona, was honored as the spirit of fresh fruit,  especially apples and apple trees.  Her name derives from the Latin pomum which means fruit or apple.  Although She did love all trees,  the apple was, by far, Her favorite.  Pomona rules over all gardens, orchards, and trees that bear nuts and fruits, and according to Ovid, cares not for the woods or streams.  She is more than happy to spend Her days nurturing Her orchard. 

Her consort was Vertumnus, the god of garden and field produce He represents the year in its guise as a shape-shifter and personifies the change of seasons.  The change of seasons is symbolized in the myth of Vertumnus and Pomona as he changes into different forms in order to gain Her affection. 

Pomona, who typifies Autumn, is represented as a lovely maiden, laden with branches from fruit trees or holding in Her hand a horn of plenty, full of them, with a dog by Her side.  As a goddess of the harvest, Her festival  was celebrated throughout Greece in the Autumn.  Some researches believe that several of our modern holiday harvest  customs are remnants of Her old Roman feast. In classical Rome, She was worshipped with at a special altar set up in a grove of fruit trees called a pomonai, which had been painted outside the gates of Rome and dedicated to Pomona. .

First see those ample melons-brindled o'er
With mingled green and brown is all the rind;
For they are ripe, and mealy at the core,
And saturate with the nectar of their kind.

And here their fellows of the marsh are set,
Covering their sweetness with a crumpled skin;
Pomegranates next, flame-red without, and yet
With vegetable crystals stored within.

Then mark these brilliant oranges, of which
A by-gone Poet fancifully said,
Their unplucked globes the orchard did enrich
Like Lolden lamps in a green nilht of shade.

With these are lemons that are even more
Golden than they, and which adorn our Rhyme,
As did rough pendants of barbaric ore
Some pillared temple of the olden time.

And here are peaches with their ruddy cheeks
And ripe transparency. Here nectarines bloom,
All mottled as with discontinuous streaks.
And spread a fruity fragrance through the room.

With these are cherries mellow to the stone;
Into such ripeness bath the summer nursed them,
The velvet pressure of the tongue alone
Against the palate were enough to burst them.

Here too are plums, like edible rubies glowing -
The language of lush summer's Eden theme:
Even through the skin how temptingly keeps showing
Their juicy comfort, a rich-clouded gleam!

Here too are figs, pears, apples (plucked in haste
Our summer treat judiciously to vary)
With apricots, so exquisite in taste,
And yellow as the breast of a canary.

And luscious strawberries all faceted
With glittering lobes-and all the lovelier seen
In contrast with the loquat's duller red,
And vulgar gooseberry's unlustrous green.

And lastly, bunches of rich blooded grapes
Whose vineyard bloom even yet about them clings.
Though ever in the handling it escapes
Like the fine down upon a moth's bright wings.

Each kind is piled in order in the Basket,
Which we might well imagine now to be
Transmuted into a great golden casket
Entreasuring Pomona's jewelry.

Charles Harpur

1 comment:

  1. What is the name of her dog that stands next to her.
    richardepom@aol.com
    I have a blog.
    imagesofpomona.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete