Rebecca Cohen: The Death of Adonis

Here’s a new, classically-inspired poem by Rebecca Cohen that’s chock full of meaning, sometimes lurking between the lines! If you like this, why not check out Rebecca’s books, which include the lovely Crofton Hall series, both historical and contemporary.


Pic credit: Brent Connolly on

Once a golden god, an idolatrist’s dream.

Worshipped. Adored in boundless awe.

All eyes upon him, devoured by lustful gazes,

but the hunger fades, replaced with disbelief.

His blond hair of youth turned to grey.

A cheeky wink now wrinkled.  

Body marching south as if to Rhodes

not travelled, a lifetime’s journey interrupted.

What is beauty but a distorted mirror?

Young or old: a reflection of the unreal.

Never more than a passing image,

the wonders of last week’s news cast aside.

The crone smiles at him, a knowing smirk.

Offers eye of newt to smooth crow’s feet.

Toxin-laden lotion to unfurl a worried brow

or tincture of boar’s tusk to peel away the years.

When the potions fail to work, cut out the old.

Flying knives, sharp as ravens’ beaks.

Changes no longer just skin-deep emerge

reveals Narcissus, who revels at centre stage.