Sibyl A Poem by John Howard Payne


Summary of Myth

Sibyl made a deal with Apollo. Apollo wanted Sibyl to make love to him, so he offered to grant her any wish. She agreed, if Apollo would grant her everlasting life. Apollo granted her wish, but Sibyl did not hold up her end of the deal. So as punishment, Apollo granted her eternal life, but not eternal youth and beauty (The Iliad). The Sibyl grew smaller as she grew older. When the Sibyl had grown so small that she lived in a bottle, her only wish was to die (. The poem is very much centered around this story.


There are two major lessons to be learned from this myth.

#1: Don't take advantage of others. The Sibyl took advantage of Apollo and his willingness to grant her a wish, but look where that got her.

#2: Don't lie. The Sibyl lied to Apollo. She said she would do what he wanted if he granted her everlasting life. She got her wish, but because she lied and didn't hold up her end of the deal, she was greatly punished.


Diction is a big part of this poem. The words chosen by the author set up the tone nicely. They also rhyme, which gives the poem a rhythmic and music-like flow. Imagery adds to the affect of this poem, giving the reader a better visualization of what is happening. By using words such as "peak" and "soft" when describing the hill, the author tells the reader that the Sibyl is standing on top of the hill, but gives it a much deeper description to add visual effect. The author writes "The full brook wanders through the ferns to seek The amber haunts of bees;" (Payne). By using the word "wanders" to describe the brook, the reader can visualize a small stream winding around and beneath ferns. Overall, the author is trying to give the reader a look into the world of the Sibyl as to have a better understanding of the poem and what the Sibyl is going through.


In the movie 'The Princess and the Frog', released by Disney in 2009, Dr. Facilier is the voodoo man. The Sibyl is granted her wish to have eternal life, though in the end she only wishes to die. When Facilier does not repay his debt to the spirits, they take him to the underworld where he lives for all eternity (Fandom). This relates to the poem because, one, both the Sibyl and the voodoo man failed to comply to the rules of the deals they made. Two, in the end neither the Sibyl nor Dr. Facilier wanted to live in the place they were at for eternity. Both characters face an unwanted fate.

In this video clip from the movie, you can see the voodoo man being taken to the underworld by the spirits, after failing to repay his debt.


The myth is that the Sibyl made a deal with Apollo (Encyclopædia Britannica). She agreed to make love to him, but only if he would grant her everlasting life. The Poem is describing what happened to the Sibyl after she didn't hold up her end of the deal with Apollo. Apollo grants her everlasting life, but not eternal youth and beauty. The Sibyl grows old and very small. The allusion shows another character that faces a terrible fate due to failure to comply with the rules of the agreement he made. All three texts were relatively similar and it was easier to have a better understanding of the poem itself. Without reading the story, and the deal between Apollo and the Sibyl, the poem would have been very confusing. The allusion is helpful to understand her fate a little bit more. Relating it to something in a more recent time period made it easier to comprehend. Overall, the poem was easier to understand by figuring out how it relates to the other elements of the project.

Works Cited

(The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, "Sibyl", 2007)

("Myths Encyclopedia")

(Fandom, Wickedpedia, "Doctor Facilier")

("The Iliad Final Project")

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