Today has not been successful when it comes to writing–as in, no poem writing has taken place. Part of the problem was I really couldn’t decide which picture to use–there were two about Orpheus, who, because he was known for his poetry and musical ability, has always interested me.
The first choice was the Lament of Orpheus, by Alexandre Séon (1855-1917), which I like because he’s destraught on the beach, one arm wrapped over his eyes, the other clutching a lyre made from a turtle shell, after he’s come back from the Underworld, but lost Eurydice for the second time. In fact, according to myth, after he lost he again, he was never to love another woman, and chose instead young men. Something about his grief and love for Eurydice moves me.
The other Orpheus picture, The Death of Orpheus, by Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret (that’s a name for you!) (1852-1929), also shows Orpheus flinging his left arm over his eyes. In the link I’ve provided, the color is much darker; in the postcard I have, it’s much more mossy-colored, and there is a strange, almost ethereal green hint to his skin tone. I like this picture because of the forest setting, but I have a hard time thinking he’s dead here because he is, after all, standing up. And he frankly doesn’t look like he’s been ripped to shreds by the Maenads. Not to be lurid, but according to myth, his head needs to not be part of his body.
So, herein lies the quandary. Do I write about Orpheus’ death, in which his head and lyre are carried to the Isle of Lesbos and enshrined, or do I write about his deep, abiding love for his lost wife? Or, should I pick another picture entirely so I can eliminate having to pick between the two?
Maybe I’m just not feeling Orpheusy. There are plenty of other myths in my postcard book to choose from. Of course, who’s to say that I’ll feel inspired enough by any of the others?
Ok, so I wrote a poem based on Séon’s picture, and I like it–I mean, it’s got the usual early draft problems, but the main issue is that it’s 21 lines long (not counting the spaces between each tercet), and there is NO WAY I can handwrite the poem on the back of the post card. I think even if I typed it up in tiny font, and glued it to the back of the card, I would be hard-pressed to get it to fit. So I’m thinking I might have to either pare it way down, or just write something else. Anyway, the title is “You Looked Back.”
Tomorrow, I will try to write another, shorter poem about Orpheus and Eurydice, as well as write on Dagnan-Bouveret’s painting. I hope.