Lethe

Come to my heart, you tiger I adore.
You sullen monster, cruel and speechless spirit;
Into the thickness of your heavy mane
I want to plunge my trembling fingers' grip.

I want to hide the throbbing of my head
In your perfume, under those pettticoats,
And breathe the musky scent of our old love,
The fading fragrance of the dying rose.

I want to sleep! to sleep and not to live!
And in a sleep as sweet as death, to dream
Of spreading out my kisses without shame
On your smooth body, bright with copper sheen.

If I would swallow dwon my softened sobs
It must be in your bed's profound abyss--
Forgetfulness is moistening your breath
Lethe itself runs smoothly in your kiss.

My destiny, from now on my delight,
Is to obey as one who has been sent
To guiltless martyrdom, when all the while
His passion fans the flames of his torment.

My lips will suck the cure for bitterness:
Oblivion, nepenthe has its start
In the betwitching teats of those hard breasts,
That never have been harbour of a heart.

--Charles Baudelaire, from Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil)
Would I, that horrors watch behind this mask--
And drunk have I the milk of my own torment
Guilty in a flesh-embroider'd cup--
Now hope to take a precious gift of You
Too blissful to my dry and bloodi'd lips?
My soul a lashing fire doth all erode,
A well-deserved scourge of a sweet vengeance,
This curse too straight from all my slain forgot.
O'er merciful waters bending now am I;
Thy sip alone doth frightful visions banish
And bathe my mind in cool oblivion.
Invoke Thee here, and rest myself in Lethe.

There is a patch (known just as the Lethe patch) available for Nethack that adds the river Lethe and other netherworldly interesting things to the game. The patch was written by Michael Clarke.

The river (complete with ?SoA effects! =) starts from under Medusa's level, and leads to the gates of Gehennom. This addition isn't the only one - Gehennom has got some pretty neat additions and changes, and reportedly it's much more interesting part after that. The special demon levels are bigger. The Castle, formerly the gateway to Gehennom, is now just another level in the "Lethe Gorge".

The patch adds new scrolls, too, bunch of new monsters (drawn from Cthulhu Mythos), and blunt silver weapons (for those who have religious problems using bladed weapons but would pretty much like to deal with demons properly, too).

I might try it, if I only ever would get that far in the game...

The Lethe is one of the five rivers of The Underworld, which is ruled by Hades. When souls or as the Ancient Greeks called them, shades, were in the underworld, they lived in a sort of 'half consciousness', continuing to labor and emote as they did on earth while wandering the Fields of Asphodel awaiting judgement by Hades and his wife Persephone, but without the vim and vigor of, say, a living human.

It is said that river was created by Hades as a gift to his citizens, since drinking from it swept away all of their memories of life on earth.

Not only would they forget their wants, troubles and pain, but they would also forget their loved ones and the joys they felt on earth in order to spare them the pain of missing them. Some also believe that the shades who were destined to return to earth in different forms, via reincarnation were instructed to drink a certain amount of the water so they could return as a 'clean slates', free of knowledge or pre-judgement.

Literature: poetry: Charles Baudelaire: Les Fleurs du Mal: Le Léthé

Original French

Viens sur mon cæur, âme cruelle et sourde,
Tigre adoré, monstre aux airs indolents;
Je veux lontemps plonger mes doigts tremblants
Dans l'épaisseur de ta crinière lourde;

Dans tes jupons remplis de ton parfum
Ensevelir ma tête endolorie,
Et respirer, comme une fleur flétrie,
Le doux relent de mon amour défunt.

Je veux dormir! dormir plutòt que vivre!
Dans un sommeil, douteux comme la mort,
J'étalerai mes baisers sans remord
Sur ton beau corps poli comme le cuivre.

Pour engloutir mes sanglots apaisés
Rien ne me vaut l'abìme de ta couche;
L'oubli puissant habite sur ta bouche,
Et le Léthé coule dans tes baisers.

A mon destin, désormais mon délice,
J'obéirai comme un prédestiné;
Martyr docile, innocent condamné,
Dont la ferveur attise le supplice,

Je sucerai, pour noyer ma rancæur,
Le népenthés et la bonne ciguë
Aux bouts charmants de cette gorge aiguë
Qui n'a jamais emprisonné de cæur.


The original text was found in a first edition 1936 text of translations, which are, alas, copyright.


Le"the (?), n. [See Lethal.]

Death.

[Obs.]

Shak.

 

© Webster 1913.


Le"the (l&emac;"th&esl;), n. [L., fr. Gr. , prop., forgetfulness; akin to to forget, to escape notice.]

1. Class. Myth.

A river of Hades whose waters when drunk caused forgetfulness of the past.

2.

Oblivion; a draught of oblivion; forgetfulness.

 

© Webster 1913.

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