Sailing across the river, with no light to guide,
a hooded figure with a departed soul by his side.
Plodding through the water, looking straight ahead,
across the River Styx, searching for the gate to the Land of the Dead.
Gnarled hands grip the rod that propels them on,
away from the living, from light long gone.
Not a breath of air stirs the silent atmosphere,
for breath itself is not needed here.
There are cries from the bank, cries from the waves,
belonging to the departed who could not pay.
From beyond the darkness, growls issue towards the pair,
straight from the guardian of Hade's lair.
The soul shivers, eyes darting around in fright,
trying in vain to pierce the eternal abyss of night.
The Ferryman remains silent, not at all affected,
for by the darkness and corruption of Death, he too is infected.
Looming dream-like out of the shadows appears their destination,
beyond this point shall Minos and Rhadamanthus deliver their condemnation.
The boat slows as it draws nigh to the shore,
closer to the realm where humans dwell forevermore.
Near the gate stands a four-legged colossus,
with three heads and a tail of snakes, it is nothing short of monstrous.
The soul shrinks back, not wanting to continue,
but the stern face of the ferryman leaves no room to argue.
As they step onto the bank, hands reach forth from the waves,
wishing for release from their watery grave.
As the soul follows his guide, he wonders which is better,
suffer the agony of Tartarus, or dwell beneath the cold waves of the Styx forever?
The area surrounding the gate is rife with screams,
from the broken souls, from the torture of lost dreams
Ethereal limbs quake with fear,
this close to gate, the cries of suffering are all he can hear.
But perhaps he is wrong and luck will be with him,
and soon will he walk through the fields of Elysium.
Standing near Cerberus, observing it all,
is Charon, the silent Ferryman, wrapped within a ragged pall.
A gulp, a shudder, then a step through the gate,
the soul departs to meet his awaiting fate.
Charon continues to watch for a moment more,
then walks back towards the darkened shore.
As he pushes off, he ignores the cacophony:
growls from Cerberus and Eurynomos, the cries from the entrapped, yearning to be free.
He reaches the other side, holding his hand out to the newly arrived soul,
beckoning them to give him the toll.