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Poetic Thinking 2016 | March 30, 2020

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Alternate Eurydices

Alternate Eurydices
  • On March 16, 2016

As we discussed the Orpheus myth last week, it made me think of other versions of it that I’ve encountered. Both are by women, and both give a lot more voice to Eurydice than to Orpheus. The first one is a folk opera, written by Anais Mitchell with help from many other voices (Ani DiFranco, Greg Brown, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, among other). It’s set in a “post-apocalyptic Depression era,” and in it Eurydice is overly tempted by Hades to go to him. I like her remake of the story, but it’s the music that really gets me in my gut. 

If you’re feeling a little serious, try listening to this.

If you’re feeling a little playful, try this one.

The second one is a play called Eurydice, written by Sarah Ruhl. You can read a synopsis here.

OR, you can see a video trailer of the production of it I saw last fall here.

AND/OR you can read the following, which I think captures a nice taste of what Ruhl’s Eurydice has to say:

Orpheus never liked words. He had his music. He would get a funny look on his face and I would say what are you thinking about and he would always be thinking about music.

If we were in a restaurant sometimes Orpheus would look sullen and wouldn’t talk to me and I thought people felt sorry for me. I should have realized that women envied me. Their husbands talked too much.

But I wanted to talk to him about my notions. I was working on a new philosophical system. It involved hats.

This is what it is to love an artist: The moon is always rising above your house. The houses of your neighbors look dull and lacking in moonlight. But he is always going away from you. Inside his head there is always something more beautiful.

Orpheus said the mind is a slide ruler. It can fit around anything. Words can mean anything. Show me your body, he said. It only means one thing.

I think it’s especially interesting that Orpheus in this version doesn’t like words, and that their infinite possibilities are what makes them too much for him, and (perhaps) what makes them poetic to us.

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