Cerberus

You should know which jaws
I use to maul, and which snarl
is innocent and which is not.
You have to grasp
in which ear to whisper
and in which you have to shout
you should be taught before you cross
the river Styx into which eye to stare
and where to bow, to beg and how
to learn which head of three to fear
and which to pat.

I might bite or maim before I let you in,
but if you try to leave I’ll quarter you alive
despite the fact you’re dead.

Cerberus by William Blake

Mythological creatures is a fun topic, and when asked to write about it by Brendan at toads my choice fell on Cerberus, the three headed dog. In real life there are only two headed dogs:


April 21

17 responses to “Cerberus

  1. Wow, a multi-mooded/headed guy this is! But it would be my feminine vibe that would urge me to test out which mood was which. 🙂 Love it.

  2. And here I thought all three heads would snap and bite to guard the way. Well written and most informative. “I’ll quarter you alive…” That was funny. I liked it muchly.

  3. Who are we to blame for not knowing how to entreat the three-headed dog? At least we knew to put coins on the eyes of the dead, to pay the ferryman. All this time has passed and we’re still clueless about death.

  4. oh, this is just absolutely rich Bjorn – totally loved it, every line and every image, concrete and metaphorical!

  5. I love the two-sidedness of Cerberus and of your poem, Bjorn, the idea of not knowing which jaws, ears and eyes are which,
    ‘to learn which head of three to fear
    and which to pat’.
    Fierce!

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