PROMETHEUS

This is how it happened . . .
When the Earth had been made ready for Mankind,
the task of creating them was given to my brother,
the rash and impulsive Epimetheus.
All the best qualities Epimetheus gave to animals
and there was nothing left for Men.
He begged for my help and after much thought
I stood them upright like the gods
then lit a torch from Helios
and brought it down to Earth.
Enraged, Zeus believed he could punish
these noble creatures by giving them Women,
but it didn't turn out exactly the way he planned.
He then devised my present torture
spread-eagled on a cruel rock
and visited daily by the cursed vulture
that lunches on my liver.

In 30 years
Zeus has not relented
nor have I bent
iron has met iron
my spirit will not break
he cannot force me to reveal
the name of the Woman
who will bear the son
that will destroy him.

How I got to be so unyielding is a mystery
even to myself. I could never have imagined this.
There was no precedent for what I did.
I'm not sure if it was out of love for my brother
or to stop his incessant whining
or simply to see if I could meet the challenge.
I should have known it would be seen as Hubris,
one of the unforgivable sins,
which never goes unpunished by that Olympian crew.
It's all right for them to flout the laws
but anyone who dares to act like them is doomed.

I am a patient man
with a gift for endurance —
30, 1000, 3000 years
are all the same to me
and in time I'll be released . . .
a Man of skill and courage
will slay the vulture
with a single bowshot,
and a four-legged immortal
with a tormenting wound
will take my place.
But in the meantime
I will have forgiven Zeus
and made him a gift
of that Woman's name.
He may have created Women
to punish Men
for my rebellious act
but they have brought him
a good deal of agony.
The punishment always rebounds
upon the punisher,
which like Necessity
is a law of the universe
even the Olympians
cannot escape.