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Blessed solstice! I am in an especially celebratory mood, because my poem "Vanth - A Myth Derived" is in the new edition of *Eternal Haunted Summer*, an online magazine of pagan songs and tales. Accepting the piece, the editor said that they didn't get much in the way of Etruscan mythology. The poem itself explains why.

This piece came out the research I conducted for a short story as yet unpublished, that brought home to me just how shaky is the base for all our ideas about Ancient Rome, let alone less such cultures that were less self-aggrandising. Our entire knowledge of the death goddess Libitina, for instance, rests upon maybe four passing references in Horace, Festus and Juvenal, a longer entry in Plutarch and the miraculously surviving regulations for the conduct of undertakers in the city of Puteoli. Scholars have long thought her an adaptation of an Etruscan death deity, which led me to Vanth. About whom even less is known, but at least we have some tomb paintings and this exquisite bronze.

is a name carved in an Etruscan tomb,
a bronze woman whose arms are wreathed in snakes,
the beating of rainbow-shaded wings,
the stranger at the banquet,
a torch-bearer in dark places,
who comes to announce the end.

That’s what we know, from statue, vase and wall.
The Etruscans did not write her story down
in any way that we may read today...

So yes, I write free verse every now and then.


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April 2019

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