Thursday, September 24, 2015

Carpe Diem #825 Pegasus

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Our space odyssey was on hold a few days, but today we will go on with this exploration of our universe. Today we will encounter the constellation Pegasus. I didn't know this constellation, but Pegasus I do know. This winged horse is a gorgeous myth from the Greeks.

Let us take a closer look at Pegasus:

Credits: Pegasus

The Babylonian constellation IKU (field) had four stars of which three were later part of the Greek constellation Hippos (Pegasus). Pegasus, in Greek mythology, was a winged horse with magical powers. One myth regarding his powers says that his hooves dug out a spring, Hippocrene, which blessed those who drank its water with the ability to write poetry. Pegasus was the one who delivered Medusa's head to Polydectes, after which he travelled to Mount Olympus in order to be the bearer of thunder and lightning for Zeus. Eventually, he became the horse to Bellerophon, who was asked to kill the Chimera and succeeded with the help of Athena and Pegasus. Despite this success, after the death of his children, Bellerophon asked Pegasus to take him to Mount Olympus. Though Pegasus agreed, he plummeted back to Earth after Zeus either threw a thunderbolt at him or made Pegasus buck him off.
In ancient Persia, Pegasus was depicted by al-Sufi as a complete horse facing east, unlike most other uranographers, who had depicted Pegasus as half of a horse, rising out of the ocean. In al-Sufi's depiction, Pegasus's head is made up of the stars of Lacerta the lizard.
By the way al-Sufi was one of the famous nine Muslim astronomers. His name implies that he was from a Sufi Muslim background. He lived at the court of Emir Adud ad-Daula in Ispahan, Persia, and worked on translating and expanding Greek astronomical works, especially the Almagest of Ptolemy. He contributed several corrections to Ptolemy's star list and did his own brightness and magnitude estimates which frequently deviated from those in Ptolemy's work. He was a major translator into Arabic of the Hellenistic astronomy that had been centered in Alexandria, the first to attempt to relate the Greek with the traditional Arabic star names and constellations, which were completely unrelated and overlapped in complicated ways.
Credits: Pegasus (upside down)
A wonderful story and a wonderful constellation I think. I couldn't write a haiku at first, but after reading and re-reading I thought maybe I can do something with Hippocrene the spring dug out through Pegasus's hooves, which blessed those who drank from it with the powerful skill to write poetry. So here is my attempt inspired on Hippocrene:

after the rainstorm
horses galloping through puddles
droplets of poetry

© Chèvrefeuille

Credits: Hippocrene on Mt.Helicon

Hippocrene  was the name of a spring on Mt. Helicon. It was sacred to the Muses and was formed by the hooves of Pegasus. Its name literally translates as "Horse's Fountain" and the water was supposed to bring forth poetic inspiration when imbibed.

There are several poems in which "Hippocrene" is mentioned. An example:

John Keats (1795-1821), an English poet, mentions "Hippocrene" in his wellknown poem "Ode to a Nightingale", what is following is part of that poem. If you would like to read Keats' whole poem than follow the link above.
O for a beaker full of the warm South
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim

I hope you did like this episode about Pegasus and of course I hope that it will inspire you to write an all new haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until September 27th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, Pyxis (Mariner's Compass), later on. For now ... be inspired and share your inspired haiku with us all.


  1. Kristjaan, how you entertain us!
    I just love these prompts and the posts you compose so beautifully.

  2. Fine words, my friend, and equally fine haiku. A touch of the esoteric to it, and in that way, a very true haiku.

  3. I really enjoyed how the 3rd line of your haiku acts as a comment on the start of the poem, whilst also adding another context entirely.