Valentine's Day, 2017
How can I celebrate love now that I know what it does?
for Valentine's Day, a bit of Orpheus & Eurydice by American poet Gregory Orr.
cosmic dream radio , Episode 10
Gregory Orr's lyric sequence follows Orpheus from his passionate attachment to Eurydice, through her death, his descent into the underworld and fatal failure to rescue her, and ends with his head floating off after he is dismembered by a band of drunken wild women. Some lyrics are spoken by Orpheus, but many are addressed to us by others: a third-person narrator, Eurydice, Persephone, Hades, Ghosts in Hades, and the drunken Maenads.
Two things I particularly like about Orr's take on the myth: love is a consuming passion both Orpheus & Eurydice are somewhat relieved to be free of, and this Orpheus is aware of how he uses his muse. Orpheus can sing her body in its absence she is an emptiness he can fill with song. He knows that when he turns to lose her forever he turns, as he always does, because he needs her between hisself and the abyss. Eurydice speaks but her voice is thin--she is compared to a bird, wind, waterfall. She sees her body as a ruin-to-come. She is glad to be liberated from life, from the soiled dress of her skin. When she says "life" I read "life as passionate muse to Orpheus."
Real people don't like to be screens we project ourselves all over.
Artists do that, right? Use lovers as empty vessels to contain their creative juice? Then the vessel smashes and what matter? The juice spills into a river. Orpheus' dismembered head floats off, still singing.
what on earth was I thinking?
Sometimes I think the Maenads are avenging every real woman (person?) who ever had to be some musician/painter/poet's muse. The band of bacchic women dismember him in rage over centuries of artificial existence as pseudo-beloved fodder for his truly-beloved art.
My next big thing will deal with this myth, too (a snipbit is here). I picked up Orr's book to study another poet's choices in an extended treatment of the myth.
Fun fact: one of the first poems I copied out of a literary magazine was by Orr. It was in the Georgia Review in 1990 something. It was about water, as I recall, and I probably wrote for a year pretending I was him. I did that a lot in college.
The great day comes when we first write something that doesn't sound like anyone else.
Download the poem without the intro for your playlists --------->
sing, woman, sing. deer crash through windows. hell hounds want to play. this crappy bar? you've been here before. nothing's changed. let's turn this basement into a club. everyone's looking for someplace to go.