Carmen Cygni, a Retourne

She holds the sickle and the scythe,
Dark clothed and hooded, glimpse of white.
A dancer languorous but lithe,
She stands between the day and night.

Dark clothed and hooded glimpse of white,
Peitho beguiles by danse charnelle.
She calls defiant, but contrite
As fears of Hades’ depths are quelled.

A dancer languorous but lithe,
In seven veils of totentanz,
Regales the burdened and the blithe,
Whatever works, ignores or fawns.

She stands between the day and night.
Persuasion is her favored game.
None shall resist her grave delight.
All rise or fall, in pearl or flame.


Carmen Cygni: Swan Song
Peitho: Goddess of Persuasion
Danse Charnelle: Carnal Dance
Totentanz: Dance of Death




A memory from my father… I haven’t been able to find it in exactly this form
on any search engines.

‘Twas in a restaurant they first met,
Young Romeo and Juliet.
‘Twas there he first fell into debt,
For Romi owed what Juli et.



Mike Bryant is a poet and retired plumber living on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

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19 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    I love them both, Mike!

    My wife was still asleep when I read them, and had to keep myself from laughing out loud at the last one!

    • Mike Bryant

      Thank you so very much, Joe. Dad was a font of interesting and funny poems and stories that live with me to this day.

  2. Julian D. Woodruff

    Nice rhyme on Totentanz. Nice pun on grave. Delicious tongue-play on Juliet.

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    “Carmen Cygni” is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated, and intelligent set of quatrains that I have ever read.

    Absolute perfection in meter, grammar, syntax, and elegant word-choice. I have one question: In line 8, should the word “fear” be in the plural, to go along with the “are” at the end of the line? Or am I misreading something?

    • Mike Bryant

      First, thanks so much for the praise. Also, you are correct. Perhaps Evan will change “fear” to “fears” for me.

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      I always wondered about “Of his bones are coral made.” Did S’s ear just cringe at “… bones is …”; or was “coral” as played ok by him? Also, in the Mass, “all glory and honor is yours …” (an accurate translation of the Latin).

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Older English and Latin don’t always pay strict attention to the singularity or plurality of verbs, if the subject governing the verb can in some way be construed as a collective plural. Standard Modern English, however, is stricter on the subject.

  4. James Tweedie

    To Joseph S’s string of adjectives, I would add, “elegant.”

    Beautifully crafted.

  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    “Carmen Cygni” is smooth, seductive, cerebral, and superlative – an absolute treat.

    “Amuse-bouche” is palatable, punny, and downright funny!

    You’ve made my Sunday, Mr. Bryant. ❤️

    • Mike Bryant

      And You are amazing as hell. I love the punny/funny rhyme. You just can’t help Yourself, can You? Besides, how could I do anything at all without You?

  6. Sally Cook

    You are both excellent poets, and just the way you compliment each other complements the quality of your respective works.
    Self-identifying male humans are the best –

    • Mike Bryant

      Thanks so much for your complementary compliment, Ms. Sally! I love your sunny outlook on life.

      • sally cook

        Oh, Mike if you only knew ! Perhaps the fact that my father was a great eccentric and punster has balanced me. He loved to scan the papers for funny ads, his all-time favorite being FOR SALE, A PIANO a lady WITH MAHOGANY LEGS.
        With what joy this perpetual nine year old planted his vegetable garden each year, just waiting for someone to ask what he had planted.
        His invariable answer –LETTUCE, TURNIP and PEE !
        He enjoyed this joke just as much as if he had not been hearing. it for decades.
        Your pun today reminded me of him; not a bad thing.

  7. David Watt

    Mike, I would add classy to the list of adjectives describing your first poem.
    The wordplay concluding your second poem is delightful.


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