There is a version of the story of Orpheus which says that the gods had no sympathy for him in his loss of Eurydice because they believed he loved nothing but his his lyre, his songs, his tutelary deity, Apollo.
The gods revenged themselves for his irreligiousness and autonomy by killing Orpheus.
But, his decapitated head sings still. Prophecies and poetry continue for those who are open to them.
Every poem you remember, even fragmented, when you don’t recall the poet: s/he is Orpheus.
The Death of Orpheus, 1893, oil on canvas. Jean Delville, 1893-1962, Belgian. Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Belgium on loan to a Symbolist exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
These Poems, She Said
Robert Bringhurst, Canadian born 1946
from “These Poems, She Said” from The Beauty of the Weapons: Selected Poems 1972–1982.
These poems, these poems,
these poems, she said, are poems
with no love in them. These are the poems of a man
who would leave his wife and child because
they made noise in his study. These are the poems
of a man who would murder his mother to claim
the inheritance. These are the poems of a man
like Plato, she said, meaning something I did not
comprehend but which nevertheless
offended me. These are the poems of a man
who would rather sleep with himself than with women,
she said. These are the poems of a man
with eyes like a drawknife, with hands like a pickpocket’s
hands, woven of water and logic
and hunger, with no strand of love in them. These
poems are as heartless as birdsong, as unmeant
as elm leaves, which if they love love only
the wide blue sky and the air and the idea
of elm leaves. Self-love is an ending, she said,
and not a beginning. Love means love
of the thing sung, not of the song or the singing.
These poems, she said….
You are, he said,
That is not love, she said rightly.
The Writer, 1925, oil on cardboard. Manuel Rodriguez Lozano, 1896-1971, Mexican. Private collection on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in I can’t remember when
The header is a self-portrait of Adolfo Best Maugard, 1891-1964, Mexican. Private collection on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.