Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Persephone and the Rabbit: A Child's Myth

I wrote this story years ago.  Like many of my stories, it is meant to be told rather than read. 

Upon the dawning of Spring, Persephone was about to celebrate her coming of age. Demeter decided to throw a wonderful party in honor of her daughter. Demeter charged the little goatfoot god, Pan, with the guest list. So Pan traveled the countryside spreading the news to all the Gods and Nymphs and Animals.

After some time, Pan though that he was finished when he heard the soft sound of crying from the Rabbit’s warren. Pan knelt down and called into the tunnels, “hello, Rabbit, is that you?” After a moment the timid Rabbit poked his head out of the den, his fur was matted with his own tears. “What’s wrong?” Pan asked.

“You have invited me to Persephone’s Coming of Age and I wish to go, but I cannot bring myself to show my face. Persephone has been so kind to me, but I cannot think of anything that I can bring her as a gift. I want only to please her.”

Pan couldn’t help himself and he laughed out loud. This only caused Rabbit to sob louder. “No, Rabbit, I didn’t mean to make light of your trouble, but you mustn’t worry so much. Persephone wouldn’t want to see you like this. All you have to do is make her something from your heart – something you yourself have created.” Pan pat the Rabbit on his head, “I will see you tomorrow for the Party.”

After Pan left, Rabbit thought about what he could make. He was good at building warrens, but Persephone had little use for an underground nest. Rabbit’s thoughts were soon interrupted.

“Rabbit! Oh Rabbit!” Hollered Chicken as she came running to his warren with a basket of fresh eggs. “Here are the eggs I promised you for your breakfast.”

“Oh, thank you, Chicken, I am looking forward to enjoying them.”

“Then I will see you at the Party tomorrow?” Chicken asked.

Rabbit nodded, “I suppose you will.” And he hurried back into his nest and placed the basket of eggs in a safe place before going to sleep.

Rabbit woke suddenly as the golden rays of morning light were flooding the warren. He had an idea! He looked into the basket that Chicken has given him and lifted out an egg. He considered the egg very closely. It would certainly make a lovely gift for Persephone. But, he thought, not as it was. Rabbit took the eggs up to the bright sunlight and gathered saffron, grapes and all other manner of things that could be made into vibrant dyes. Rabbit spent most of the morning painstakingly painting elaborate patterns on the eggs. When he was done he admired them – they were all very lovely. Rabbit placed all of the pretty eggs back in the basket.

Just then he noticed everyone headed to the grove for the party. Rabbit carefully carried the basket to the grove and joined the back of the line for presenting gifts to Persephone. One by one, she received each gift of elaborate jewels and garments from all the creatures, nymphs and Gods.

Rabbit waited impatiently at the back of the line. He felt Pan’s hand on his back, “Look at Persephone’s face.” The little God whispered, “she is unhappy with these gifts. They do not come from the heart.”

Finally the Rabbit reached the head of the line. He looked timidly up at the Goddess and said, “Lady, I have made this for you,” and he handed her the basket.

Persephone’s face lit up. “Rabbit, this is the most beautiful gift that I have ever received. The egg is the symbol of life, and you have made it more beautiful than it was. I want everyone to share in this joy!”

So all of the animals and the nymphs and the Gods spent the afternoon painting eggs as Rabbit taught them. Then they made up games to hide the eggs and look for them. No one remembered ever having so much fun.

So each year, upon Persephone’s return from the underworld, she celebrates the spring this way.

photos by Me

Monday, March 29, 2010

Today is my Birthday!

I'm not just saying that to get people to say "Happy Birthday," although I welcome you to do so. I encourage it, in fact.  I like when folks say "Happy Birthday" to me.   My real reason for this post is that I am feeling introspective on this 35th anniversary of my birth. I imagine most people feel the same way on their own. 

I said something in my last post.  Sometime that was really just a throw away statement, but it I have been thinking about it obsessively since.  I mentioned that I tend to compartmentalize my life by the seasons.  I have been wondering if it is a "chicken or egg" type scenario:  Do I love the seasons because of Persephone or do I love Persephone because of the seasons?  Ultimately, I am not sure it matters.  What I have learned about myself, though, is that the seasons really affect how I live my life from day to day.  And Springtime signifies the traditional idea of rebirth and renewal.  It is a convenient cue that my birthday is just 8-10 days after the Spring Equinox. 

I was born on Holy Saturday and my birthday is frequently right around Easter. Like Christmas, I celebrate a sort of secular Easter - food, chocolate, and springtime renewal. And I have always heavily associated those things with my birthday. And what a fine time to celebrate my very own annual renewal.

Since Persephone is so intermingled with the turning of the seasons, it feels natural that I honor her on the turning of my very own season. Every year, I look back on the things that I have done in the past year and forward to the things I wish to accomplish in the coming year.

 And my 34th year has been a banner year. Among my accomplishments:
  1. Building a house with my own two hands
  2. Working hard on this very blog as well as other writing projects. 
  3. Continuing to be successful at my career in spite of a down economy.

Each of these items has special significance in the long term.  Building a house has been exceptionally difficult and probably the single most rewarding thing I have ever done.  We are about halfway finished, but it wasn't until this spring that I realized precisely where we were in the project and how much we have actually accomplished.  During the long winter, it felt like we were behind but we are no where near behind.  See, compartmentalizing my life: the winter makes me think differently than the spring.  This tiny cabin is our pathway to a self-reliant lifestyle. 
Getting back to writing, whether it is this blog or the 120 Square Feet blog has really changed my outlook on things.  I feel like I am getting back to my roots.  I have wanted to "be a writer" since I was a little girl.  Sure, everyone has a blog today but it really feels like home for me.  Not everything I write is perfect, and you know what?  I am perfectly okay with that.  They are an offering to the Gods, and to Persephone especially to thank her for the turning of the seasons both literally and figuratively.  It does make me realize that all I really want to do is write, no matter what it is that I am writing about. 
Number three is an interesting bullet point.  I don't talk much about what I do for a living here on my blog, but the truth is I am good at it.  I work as a recruiter and this last year has been particularly hard in our industry. 2009 was not a banner year and we lost a lot of money.  In spite of that, I have felt very proud of the work that I have done.  We've had a really good first quarter 2010 and we feel really good about the state of things moving forward.  I've also pulled my company, nearly kicking and screaming, into the 21st century of internet recruiting.  I single handedly started an internet campaign with two blogs (one of job postings, one to communicate with our employees), a Facebook Fan page, a twitter account to promote our blog, and encouraged my whole company to participate on LinkedIn.  I don't want to be a recruiter forever, but now I am at least grateful for a good company that is still doing business in the marketplace and for the freedom to create tools to help us with our day to day work.  I love my boss and my co-workers and I will be very loyal to them. 

Considering these things, I do hope that my 35th year will be just as prosperous. There are many changes ahead. We will be completing our tiny cabin, moving into a smaller place in Atlanta and pushing toward a much simpler lifestyle.  I want to continue to move forward with more writing projects to phase that into my life and phase the 9-5 job lifestyle out.  I continue to follow the footsteps of Persephone's own journey,  I decend into the underworld in the Fall and spend the Winter months in introspection.  I emerge into sunlight of Olympos at the Spring to spend the Summer months taking action.  Her eternal story is my inspiration. 
Happy Birthday to me! 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Phantom Power by Tragically Hip

As you have probably noticed, I am a music fan and post about music often.  For me, most music has a seasonal essence to me.  I guess it is just the way that I categorize the world, everything falls neatly into one season or another.  An album that has very strong Springtime connections for me is Phantom Power by The Tragically Hip.  I guess it is beacuse of the opening line to the opening song:

Spring starts when a heartbeat's poundin'

When the birds can be heard above the reckoning carts doing some final accounting
There are so many great songs on the CD, and I highly recommend it.  But for some reason, the song that really sticks out and makes me feel like spring is Bobcaygeon

I guess maybe I associate this song with Springtime and specifically with the story of Persephone's return from her Underworld home.  It has the pull of heartbreak with the optimism of spring.

I left your house this morning about a quarter after nine

coulda been the Willie Nelson coulda been the wine
when I left your house this morning
it was a little after nine
it was in Bobcaygeon I saw the constellations
reveal themselves one star at a time

Drove back to town this morning with working on my mind
I thought of maybe quitting
thought of leaving it behind
went back to bed this morning
and as I'm pulling down the blind
the sky was dull and hypothetical
and falling one cloud at a time

That night in Toronto with its checkerboard floors
riding on horseback and keeping order restored
til the men they couldn't hang
stepped to the mic and sang
and their voices rang with that Aryan twang
I got to your house this morning just a little after nine

in the middle of that riot
couldn't get you off my mind
so I'm at your house this morning
just a little after nine
cause it was in Bobcaygeon where I saw the constellations
reveal themselves one star at a time

Friday, March 26, 2010

Original Poetry: Persephone Dreaming

Eyes closed gently, asleep
egg yolk colored flowers dancing in the sunlight
spring leaves yawn forth in rich soil
Sky as blue as country houses on rolling hills of clouds
Robin Red-Breast
Sings a song as sweet as Orpheus sings
The air is warm; wraps us in optimism
The daughter dreams her return
winter becomes a memory.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Persephone by Cocteau Twins

I have to admit, I haven't listened to the Cocteau Twins much.  I suppose I would say "at all" except I am vaguely aware of their existence and I am certain I have heard something before. 

A friend recently posted this song on her facebook page and, because of the title I had to listen to it.  It is hauntingly beautiful.  However, after reading the lyrics I am not completely certain why it is called "Persephone" as it doesn't appear to have anything to do with her.  To be honest I am not sure I grok the lyrics, and I am not ashamed to admit that.  I'd be happy if anyone could explain them to me.  Or, maybe I would be happier just being blissfully ignorant. 

Hey, ever dirt even there month got a car

Here's what it takes (x4)
Paper chase is on
These are on my speed
For he warbled
Bought arachnophobe
On the tiara, by the gin's rack
Paper chase is on
These are on my space

Paper chase is on hey, the chances I must face
These are on my speed oh, you warbler
For he warbled hey, that's by the car
Bought arachnophobe
On the tiara
By the gin's rack
Paper chase is on
These are on my space

I watch him trail (x4)
Hey, for eight means paper chase paper warm beings means the paper chase
For our time being's for our time being's never changes this
Never changes this (x2)

Here's what it takes (x6)

Paper warm beings means the paper chase here's what it takes
For our time being's never changes this
Here's what it takes

Hey, for eight means paper chase
For our time being's never changes this

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Equinox 2010

One of the reasons I am a devotee of Persephone is because of the feeling I get at the turn of each season. I have been sorely in need of springtime to arrive especially after such a long and cold winter in Atlanta. I recently read that this winter has been one of the worst on record for our area, and I can believe it. In fact, it even snowed a little this morning!

I was able to honor   the Goddess this weekend by planting daffodils in Persephone's Glade.  I love the thought that each spring, they will make the return trip with Persephone.  My friend took this photograph of the glade. 

I've shared this poem before, but it makes me think of Springtime in North Carolina.  I wrote before we placed the statue in the glade. 

A soft spring maid picking daffodils

Autumn wife and most dread Queen
A field of white sweet asphodel
A soft spring maid picking daffodils
Olympos high above the rolling hills
Halls of Hades in the world beneath
A soft spring maid picking daffodils
Autumn wife and most dread Queen

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Daffodil Cake

I was looking for some Greek Easter recipes to share for any springtime celebrations, but then I stumbled upon this recipe!  What a great thing to try for the Spring Equinox this coming weekend. 

Daffodil Cake (Easter Dinner Cake)

Serving Size : 1 Preparation Time :0:00

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1/2 cup sifted cake flour
6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar white part:
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sifted cake flour
6 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cold water powdered sugar

Sift 1/2 cup cake flour and 1/2 cup powdered sugar
together three times. Beat egg whites till frothy; add
cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt. Beat till soft
peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup granulated
sugar. Sift a fourth of the flour mixture at a time
over top; fold in.

Yellow part: Sift 3/4 cup cake flour and baking powder
together three times. Beat yolks with juice and water
until thick, 5 to 7 minutes; gradually beat in 1/2 cup
granulated sugar. Sift a fourth of the flour mixture
at a time over top; fold in.

Alternately spoon yellow and white mixtures into an
ungreased 9- or 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 375 degrees
F for 35 to 40 minutes. Invert and cool. Dust cake
with powdered sugar.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Anais Mitchell's Hadestown

I don’t know how I had never heard of this before, but I am so glad this is finally part of my listening landscape. Hadestown is the “Folk Opera” by singer/songwriter Anais Mitchell. In reading about its history, I know that she has been performing it in one way or another for many years. The next goal of mine is to see a theatrical performance.

I have been listening to it pretty much non-stop since buying it from iTunes on the March 9th, the day it was released. The recording features Mitchell herself, of course, but also a host of guest artists, the most notable being Ani DiFranco. Also, Justin Vernon from the band Bon Iver, Ben Knox Miller, Greg Brown and the Haden Triplets (Tanya, Petra and Rachel), none of whom I had been previously familiar with.

The story is the mythic tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, but with a bit of a spin. The milieu is a world of poverty to be contrasted with Mitchell’s vision of the underworld where the dead work for Hades protecting his realm from the rest of the world. There are twenty songs that tell the story. And what I love about it most is that in this version, Eurydice is the main character and Orpheus is more of a plot device – which in the traditional tale the tables are usually turned.

The story begins with “Wedding Song” where Eurydice confronts her lover, Orpheus. The times are hard and they have nothing so how does Orpheus propose to take care of this wedding? As practical as Eurydice is, Orpheus is more of a dreamer. He is happy with all of the things that nature can give them – the rivers, the trees and the birds. Orpheus’ ideals continue into the next song, “Epic (Part I)” where he appears to be telling the story of Hades and explaining that he would rather be poor than be a slave in the underworld (i.e. Dead).

The ensemble piece “Way Down Hadestown” introduces the supporting cast; particularly Hermes in his role as Psychopompos or, it appears, a train conductor inviting the poor people to come with him to Hades’ kingdom. We also meet Persephone, performed flawlessly by DiFranco. Apparently it is autumn time and she tells us that her husband had come to “bring [her] home to Hadestown.”

As the story continues in song, Eurydice makes a choice. Or does she? The asp is absent, but the term Viper is used in the lyrics to represent her death. I see her descent in to the underworld as a direct result of the poverty that she has been enduring. She is sorrowful to leave Orpheus behind, but in this version Eurydice has conscious thoughts about the matter. I love that this is Eurydice’s story. Mitchell herself sings this role and I am enamored by her gritty but innocent sounding voice.

We also meet the three fates, which to me represent the traditional use of the Chorus in Greek tragedies. The Haden Triplets give a voice to what everyone is thinking about the story in progress.

In Track 9, “Why We Build the Wall” we hear from Hades, intriguingly performed by the harsh, bluesy voice of Greg Brown. He tells the story of the work that he gives the people of his kingdom. And this song segues into my favorite track, for clearly obvious reasons, “Our Lady of the Underground.” Persephone runs a speakeasy of sorts sharing lots of contraband items from the world above, the very world she lives in for half of the year.

I can give you what it is you crave
A little something from the good old days
I’ve got the wind right here in a jar
I’ve got the rain on tap at the bar
I got sunshine up on the shelf
Allow me to introduce myself
Brother, what’s my name
My name is…
"Our lady of the underground"

Come here brother, let me guess
It is the little things you miss
Spring flowers, autumn leaves
Ask me brother and you shall receive
Or maybe these just ain’t enough
Maybe you’re looking for some stronger stuff
I’ve got a sight for the sorest eyes
When’s the last time you saw the sky
Wipe away your tears
Brother I know how you feel
I can see you’re blinded by the sadness of it all
Look a little closer
Everything will be revealed
Come a little closer
There’s a crack in the wall
After this performance by Persephone, we hear the very mournful side of Eurydice’s story. My friend, Kathryn Hinds, once mused that she disliked how Eurydice was always just a plot device for Orpheus’ story. She will find comfort in knowing that Mitchell has taken up the mantle of telling Eurydice’s tale, all but ignoring Orpheus in the process. In “Flowers”, Eurydice dwells on what led her to this place at this time. She shares what I am guessing are Hermes’ words to her as she boarded the train to Hadestown, “You won’t feel a thing, he said, when you go down. Nothing gonna wake you up now.” But she continues to mourn what it is that she gave up when she arrived:

I remember fields of flowers
Soft beneath my heals
Walking in the sun
I remember someone by my side
Turned his face to mine
And then I turned away
Into the shade
The story continues as you might expect. Orpheus mourns the death of his beautiful wife and makes plans to follow her into the underworld to rescue her. It appears that he finds Persephone’s crack in the wall and is able to get in, angering King Hades in the process. Persephone appeals to her husband in the song “How Long?”:

If you had heard how he sang tonight
You’d pity poor Orpheus
All of his sorrow won’t fit in his chest
It just burns like a fire in the pit of his chest
And his heart is a bird on a spit in his chest

And so Hades replies to his wife:

Just as long as Hades is king
Nothing comes from wishing on stars
Nothing comes from songs people sing
However sorry they are
Give them a piece and they’ll take it all
Show them the crack and they’ll tear down the wall
In “Epic (Part II)”, Orpheus appeals to Hades directly. So he reminds the King of his own experience with love and recounts the tale of Hades and Persephone. I love how, in Orpheus’ version, there is no mention of force or anger. Hades sees Persephone, falls madly in love and takes her as his wife. Just my kind of myth.

Suddenly he saw her there
Persephone, in her mother’s garden
The sun on her shoulders
The wind in her hair

So Hades gives in during the song “His Kiss, the Riot”:

Only one thing can be done
Let them think that they have won
Let them leave together
Under one condition
Orpheus the undersigned
Shall not turn to look behind
She’s out of sight
And he’s out of his mind

We all know the end of the story. Eurydice follows Orpheus toward the crack in the wall, but Orpheus doubts her presence. In Mitchell’s version, Eurydice even speaks encouraging words to her husband and they ascend, and yet he still isn’t convinced. And in the end, he is gone and she is not.

The tale usually follows Orpheus out of the underworld and toward his own tragic end without his wife by his side. But in Mitchell’s Folk Opera, we stay in the underground and experience Persephone and Eurydice singing the final tribute to the brave musician:

Some birds sing when the sun shines bright
My praise is not for them
But the one who sings
In the dead of night
I raise my cup to him

I can’t recommend this recording enough. The tale is exquisitely told in the hands of such an adept song writer. The characters are performed with such heart and soul that the listener will easily mourn along side Orpheus and Eurydice. I even find myself very sympathetic to this portrayal of Hades and his beloved wife, Persephone. I can’t wait to be able to experience a performance of this production live.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pomegranate Tango

I met Mary Crowell at a house filk several years ago.  That is where I first had the pleasure of hearing this song.  Matt even played the drums with her that day.  

She recently pointed me in the direction of this YouTube video for her song, Pomegranate Tango.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Just as the pomegrante symbolizes Persephone's time in the underworld, the Daffodil represents her springtime aspects for me.  The Homeric Hymn to Demeter paints the picture of young Persephone picking flowers.  It lists several flowers but holds a special role for the daffodil: 
"And the narcissus, which was grown as a lure for the flower faced girl by Gaia." 
I learned today that the daffiodil has a narcotic quality.  Perhaps Hades made sure to have Persephone drugged so he could snatch her into the underworld.

Daffodil is, of course, the common English name for the Narcissus.  The etymology may be from the world Asphodel, the flower that grew in the underworld itself forever connecting the yellow flower to the myth of Persephone. 

William Wordsworth immortalized the daffodil in his poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud."

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

I can't wait to see the first daffodils this spring.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jim Henson's Storyteller

I have been thinking a lot about the myth of Orpheus since I discovered Hadestown just a few days ago.  One of my favorite versions of the tale comes from Jim Henson.  In the 80's he produced a series called The Storyteller featuring fairy tales from all over Europe.  Most of them were not the most familiar tales from our childhood.  The first series was supurbly done.  Later I discovered that there had been a second series, just 4 episodes, created for Greek Myths.  And one of them was the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. 

You can watch the entire episode here.

Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes.

As you might imagine, the Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is among my favorites.  I love that Persephone is featured so prominantly and I love that in many versions Hades is shown as kind of a softy.  But they aren't the only Gods present in this myth.  This poem by Ranier Maria Rilke tells Hermes' side of the story.

That was the deep uncanny mine of souls.
Like veins of silver ore, they silently
moved through its massive darkness. Blood welled up
among the roots, on its way to the world of men,
and in the dark it looked as hard as stone.
Nothing else was red.

There were cliffs there,
and forests made of mist. There were bridges
spanning the void, and that great gray blind lake
which hung above its distant bottom
like the sky on a rainy day above a landscape.
And through the gentle, unresisting meadows
one pale path unrolled like a strip of cotton.

Down this path they were coming.

In front, the slender man in the blue cloak —
mute, impatient, looking straight ahead.
In large, greedy, unchewed bites his walk
devoured the path; his hands hung at his sides,
tight and heavy, out of the failing folds,
no longer conscious of the delicate lyre
which had grown into his left arm, like a slip
of roses grafted onto an olive tree.
His senses felt as though they were split in two:
his sight would race ahead of him like a dog,
stop, come back, then rushing off again
would stand, impatient, at the path’s next turn, —
but his hearing, like an odor, stayed behind.
Sometimes it seemed to him as though it reached
back to the footsteps of those other two
who were to follow him, up the long path home.
But then, once more, it was just his own steps’ echo,
or the wind inside his cloak, that made the sound.
He said to himself, they had to be behind him;
said it aloud and heard it fade away.
They had to be behind him, but their steps
were ominously soft. If only he could
turn around, just once (but looking back
would ruin this entire work, so near
completion), then he could not fail to see them,
those other two, who followed him so softly:

The god of speed and distant messages,
a traveler’s hood above his shining eyes,
his slender staff held out in front of him,
and little wings fluttering at his ankles;
and on his left arm, barely touching it: she.

A woman so loved that from one lyre there came
more lament than from all lamenting women;
that a whole world of lament arose, in which
all nature reappeared: forest and valley,
road and village, field and stream and animal;
and that around this lament-world, even as
around the other earth, a sun revolved
and a silent star-filled heaven, a lament-
heaven, with its own, disfigured stars —:
So greatly was she loved.

But now she walked beside the graceful god,
her steps constricted by the trailing graveclothes,
uncertain, gentle, and without impatience.
She was deep within herself, like a woman heavy
with child, and did not see the man in front
or the path ascending steeply into life.
Deep within herself. Being dead
filled her beyond fulfillment. Like a fruit
suffused with its own mystery and sweetness,
she was filled with her vast death, which was so new,
she could not understand that it had happened.

She had come into a new virginity
and was untouchable; her sex had closed
like a young flower at nightfall, and her hands
had grown so unused to marriage that the god’s
infinitely gentle touch of guidance
hurt her, like an undesired kiss.

She was no longer that woman with blue eyes
who once had echoed through the poet’s songs,
no longer the wide couch’s scent and island,
and that man’s property no longer.

She was already loosened like long hair,
poured out like fallen rain,
shared like a limitless supply.

She was already root.

And when, abruptly,
the god put out his hand to stop her, saying,
with sorrow in his voice: He has turned around —,
she could not understand, and softly answered
                                        Far away,
dark before the shining exit-gates,
someone or other stood, whose features were
unrecognizable. He stood and saw
how, on the strip of road among the meadows,
with a mournful look, the god of messages
silently turned to follow the small figure
already walking back along the path,
her steps constricted by the trailing graveclothes,
uncertain, gentle, and without impatience.

Tr. Stephen Mitchell

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Who Run Hadestown?

I was so excited today when this new album was brought to my attention.  Anais Mitchell, a folk artist who I am ashamed to say I have never heard of, has composed a folk opera about the myth of Orpheus and Euridyce.  It tells the story set in a post-apocalyptic America.  The recording features other folk artists that I am not familiar with as well as folk Icon Ani DiFranco as Persephone. 

I can't tell you whether or not it is good - I have only listened to the samples on Amazon, but I am very excited to listen to the whole album on Tuesday, March 9th when it is released.  Below, however, is a video of a recent performance of one of the songs, "How Long?"sung by Mitchell herself.  I am most impressed. 

What a fantastic story to be told just before Persephone's own return from the Underworld. 

A Prayer in Spring by Robert Frost

Since the weatherpeople are predicting snow (!) for Atlanta again today, I thought it was apropriate to invoke a little spring time.  It really is only 19 more days until Spring officially begins after all. 

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.