Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ode to a Myrtle Berry...

At this time, they tell of an infectious epidemic
that coldly killed the king of Crete, Androgeos.
The Cercropian citadel was to give a banquet for the Minotaur,
with the best youths and equally brilliant maidens.
When these narrow walls shook with evil,
Theseus chose to rush forward, offering his body
for Athens, preferring a certain death
to the rising deaths in the Cercropia.
And so he came on the course of sleek light and slick wind
to the massive and tyrannical seat of Minos
As soon as the young daughter caught sight of him
in the palace, she exhaled a scent like virgin lust
in her bed, still nursed on her mother’s soft embrace,
like myrtle berry on the streams of Eurotas—
a distinct breath drawn out of green colors.
The sight of him before her burned.
It took hold of her entire body. A flame
dug at all of her innermost marrow.
O the miserable frenzy you excite with an unripe heart!
Sacred boy, you confuse happiness with human desire.
And you reign in Golgi and in the forests of Idalia.
On what waves did you hurl her flaring mind,
sighing for the stranger with yellow hair?
How much fear did she hold in her heart?
How often did she turn pale as great flashes of gold?
When raging with desire against the monster,
Theseus strode toward death or hard fought glory.
Not unlike little prayers offered to gods,
a useless promise set fire from her lips.
Just as tree branches shake as high as Taurus
or as cones drip off pine bark,
an untamed wind twists the whirling oak.
Roots thrust up in the distance, torn
and bent over, still twitching.
Theseus arches over the raging body,
arms raised in the vacant wind.
Then he retraced his untouched tracks,
roaming this thin thread,
unaffected by the twisting labyrinths.
He wanders on unnoticed.
-Catullus, "LXIV" (excerpt)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Strike Up the Band for a Modern Tragedie

A Vision

Two crowned Kings, and One that stood alone
With no green weight of laurels round his head,
But with sad eyes as one uncomforted,
And wearied with man’s never-ceasing moan
For sins no bleating victim can atone,
And sweet long lips with tears and kisses fed.
Girt was he in a garment black and red,
And at his feet I marked a broken stone
Which sent up lilies, dove-like, to his knees.
Now at their sight, my heart being lit with flame,
I cried to Beatrice, ‘Who are these?’
And she made answer, knowing well each name,
‘AEschylos first, the second Sophokles,
And last (wide stream of tears!) Euripides.’

- Oscar Wilde

Gerard de Nerval, "El Desdichado"

I am the man of shadows, - the widower, - the unconsoled,
The Prince of Aquitaine of the ruined Tower:
My only Star is dead, - and my starry lute
Carries the black Sun of Melancholy.

In the night of the Tomb, You who consoled me,
Give me back Posilipo and the Italian sea,
The flower which pleased my desolate heart,
And the trellis where the Vine and the Rome are united.

Am I Cupid or Phebus? ...Lusignan or Biron?
My forehead is still red from the kiss of the Queen;
I have dreamed in the Grotto where the mermaids sing...

I have twice crossed the Acheron, victorious:
Modulating by turns on Orpheus' lyre
The sighs of the Saint and the calls of the Fairy.


Such as thou art, sometime was I.
Such as I am, such shalt thou be.
I thought little on th'our of Death
So long as I enjoyed breath.
But now a wretched captive am I,
Deep in the ground, lo here I lie.
My beauty great, is all quite gone,
My flesh is wasted to the bone.

-Epitaph inscribed around his effigy

Friday, November 9, 2012

Daydreams of a Lone Political Blogger

If a man danced upon a beachfront, and no one looked in his direction, would the dance have been any the worse for it?...

How might the man have danced before an audience of many? Or perhaps just of one other? And if the man were Zarathustra?