Notes on Rata Dove’s Mother Love Persephone, Falling Based on the Greek myth of Demeter and her daughter Persephone (see Foreword), Dove creates a modern story of the event of Persephone capture by Hades. There is an overriding theme of danger and disobedience throughout the poem. The young girl’s innocence, captured in the description of her as a beautiful narcissus is juxtaposed by her act of careless disobedience (she had strayed from the herd) when she refused to heed the warning of her parent.
One cannot overlook the pun on the word “herd” at the end of the first stanza. There is an element of self- imposed danger versus the danger lurking around. In stanza one, the captor is conveyed as the devil lurking in the underworld waiting to take the unsuspecting victim “sprung out Of the earth”. Yet in stanza 2, the poem seems to apply some blame on the child who does not pay attention to the warnings of a parent “this is how easily the pit opens. This is how one foot sinks into the ground”.
One the one hand the peril comes about by the ‘terrible” prey that springs upon the helpless by surprise just as it is said in the Holy Bible’s reference to he devil roaming around the earth as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. This reading of the poem with biblical reference is underscored by the name Hades in the Greek myth itself, as well as, the biblical reference is also seen in the line “it is finished” the words quoted in the New Testament Gospel as Jesus final words after his crucifixion.
On the other hand, in the last line of the poem, the child faces a demise brought about by her own failure to adhere to good advice (80 % of stanza 2). The victim puts herself in harm’s way. The destruction came by choice “one foot sinks” Furthermore, Dove extends the threat to the vulnerable by showing various ways by which a youth can be lured away.
In “go straight to school” she speaks to the haphazard, playful child who is easily distracted and lingers away from her course. In “don’t answer to strangers” she implies a more unsuspecting, innocent whose naivety could get her ensnared but in “keep your eyes down” there appears the sexual connotation of the bold daring girl who abandons modesty with boldness and impudence. All of which can lead to an unfortunate circumstance.
This poem is not a sonnet nor does it contain any particular rhyme scheme, however the sound and rhythm of the poetic is identified as one reads aloud the internal rhymes of “flowers” and “others”; “heard ” and “herd” in stanza 1 ; and the end rhymes of “around”, “down” “ground” in stanza 2. There is a distinct difference of tone between the two stanzas when the story telling voice of the persona is superseded by the watchful parent who already sees in the child the tendency to be wayward.