Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Niobe on the deaths of her children

I wear my sorrow as a favored old coat --
wrapped tightly around me
affording protection from the foolish hopes
of an unconsoled heart.

I hold my grief hostage --
a relentless reminder
of dreams that have died
and of the contrarity of fate.

Gods crumble, nations fall;

I put my trust
in the strength of the desolate womb,
and in an emptiness unfilled
by an ocean of tears.


Anonymous said...

In a nontime,
the goddess Leto
birthed 2 twins.

In the onceuponatime,
the woman Niobe
birthed 14 Niobids

claiming victory
on her sire of 14
instead of 2.

14 Niobids -- FOURTEEN!

and Leto's 2 -- Artemis,

Apollo who
killed all the sons

Artemis who
killed all the daughters

of Niobe, whose
husband killed only himself;

Niobe, who
fled, or tried

Niobe, who
would have died
to escape

but was caught
but was stoned
but was trapped
in her sorrow
and her pride

Moral 1: A good 2 are better than 14 mortals.
Moral 2: Don't fuck with the gods.

Moral or meaning
Parable or reading
lesson or learning
study or taking

The world is full
of all of these,

-- but I like Lessons 1 and 2 best.

Books r Us said...

I like the "nontime" and the "onceuponatime". A double use of the word time, and still a sense of timelessness which I think is why we still read mythology.

You mentioned Faulkner's sympathetic reading of Niobe over at Elba...I can't find it. If you are using Vintage, got a page? If not, which section?

Anonymous said...

No. Not Faulkner's, yours.

I think many respond to Niobe with feelings of sympathy, i.e. she was treated so harshly for her off the cuff remark.

Books r Us said...

It seems that Leto could have left Niobe with at least one...if she really wanted to make her grovel, make Niobe choose. And Leto still would have been ahead 2/1.

Anonymous said...

I am in a remarkabley intolerant mood lately. I think Niobe got what she deserved, all of it. The Greeks who came up with this myth had no idea just how monstrous the Niobes can become, I think. They had no idea how humanity could go on through centuries and millenia through multiple races, countries, ethnicities, creeds and governments to build a world where the whiners ascribe only to one day reach the height of being jackals. I long for the Leto's and the Athena's and the Artemii and Apollii. I long for the return of the FURIES. I want them to come back and to stand before Aeschylus and hold his ridiculous play before them so he can see what he did in the final moments he breathes not merely the air of life but of history.

Books r Us said...

I had to look up the Aeschylus in my Loeb. The beginning of his Niobe has her sitting silently, not railing against the gods, not weeping. Just sitting (probably with her hands covering her mouth), veiled.

(the Loeb is Papyri III, Poetry...good selection of fragments here.)

Anonymous said...

I was referring to The Orestia, a decent enough play except for the fear that runs through it. Aeschylus' fear. He was no Faulkner.

Faulkner could stand in the middle of the delta and take on Hecate and all the furies, wrestle them to the ground, have his way with each and every one of them, and then set them free, better for the experience.

Aeschylus would have to make sure they were good girls first.

Books r Us said...

Rosa has something of the furies about her, but her sister is more of an Iphigenia, sacrificed to ambition.

Books r Us said...

Was it you that suggested that Sutpen misnamed Clymenestra, that Cassandra would have been more apt?

Books r Us said...

By the way, how is the Greek going?

Anonymous said...

Cassandra was not mine.
The Greek is not going. I will kick start it again today. The goal: the rest of the alphabet (upper and lower case) and 15 vocabulary words (30 for Latin). I've been talking to Mr. Pugetopolis about continuing with Faulkner. I want to finish the Compsons and move onto the Snopes. Are there any more Compson novels? Will be done with TSATF today and will start posting about Quentin and time late in the day. Google Descanso. I'm going there for lunch. Lots of fin Quercus Agrifolias there, and Douglassi and Roses and Lavenders and -- of course -- thyme.

Books r Us said...

I think these are the only two Compson novels, although they are mentioned in other writings. The short story "The Evening Sun" gives us Quentin, Caddy and Jason at ages nine, seven and five. Very ugly story.

Where are you getting your vocabulary words?

Anonymous said...

Vocab from Basic Greed (Hansen).

Future project idea: I'll start a blog where we can only speak Latin and Greek. We could invite pugetopolis, but he'll revel in breaking the rule -- and start typing in swahili or something.

Anonymous said...

Uh ... make that Basic Greek, not Greed.

Books r Us said...

The Latin strikes me as far less intimidating than the Greek, but I've never written anything in Latin...only read it and fought the translations to the ground. Could be high entertainment.