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Can't you hear voices, beloved, out on the Via Flamina?
Reapers are now going home, back from harvesting grain.
They had journeyed to Rome from afar, and here plaited for Ceres
Wreaths which the Romans today scorn to make for themselves.
Festivals no longer celebrate Ceres, the nourishing goddess
Who replaced acorns of old, giving man golden wheat.
Let us commemorate her then ourselves in festival private
(Two constitute a whole tribe, when they are two in love).
Have you by any chance heard how that mystical, strange celebration
Followed victorious troops back from Eleusis to Rome?
Greeks were the ones who began it, and only to Greeks they proclaimed it
Even within Roman walls: "Come to the sanctified night."
Those who were not of the cult kept their distance; neophytes trembled,
Waiting in garments of white, symbol of all that is pure.
Then the initiates must aimlessly wander about through the eerie
Circles of figures as if pilgriming through their own dreams.
Snakes on the ground were writhing about. Now virgins came bearing
Caskets securely locked, richly wreath�d with grain.
Surely the gestures of murmuring priests must contain some deep meaning—
Impatient acolytes wait, anxiously hoping for light.
Not until after many a testing and trial did they discover
What, within sacred ring, secretive image concealed.
What was this mystery other than this: that Demeter, goddess,
Once upon a time had to a hero been kind.
It was to Jason, powerful king of the Cretans, she granted
Of her immortal self hidden sweet parts to explore.
That made the fortune of Crete! The marital bed of the goddess
Soon grew pregnant with grain, heavy her bounteous fields.
As for the rest of the world, it languished away, while Ceres,
Derelict of her true task, dalliance offered in love.
—Now the initiate youths, having followed this tale, all astonished,
Turned and beckoned their loves—love, do you comprehend?
See there the sacred shade beneath that bushy-boughed myrtle?
Our satisfaction will there scarcely endanger a world.
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