I reviewed a book of poetry, The Throne of Psyche by Marly Youmans, for the latest issue of Mythprint. The title poem contained a retelling of the Greek myth of Eros and Psyche, and I was asked to review it because of my interest in myths. I discussed the title poem in some detail in my review, but a couple other poems really struck me (including the one I discussed last week called “The Exile’s Track”). In “Near The End Of The World,” we see artists toiling away to preserve an ancient musical tradtion — even though the world no longer appreciates the beauty of their music. Even though these singers seemed “silly” to outsiders, I suspect they found a satisfying sense of purpose in their work. This image of the final singer — I imagine a man sitting in a chair on the beach, facing the ocean, toiling as the sun sets before him — will stick with me as I continue to wrestle with how to spend my time and energy.
Once wrestled into place, the stones were walls
Of coastal towers where the resolute
Lit lamps and labored in the ancient way.
These were the ones afflicted by the word,
Who toiled in joy or dole because to make
The sweet sounds sing together was a gift
That couldn’t be renounced. And when the world
In turning turned away the magic sea
—Its depth, electrogenic light, and dreams—
Turning instead to shallower waters,
Mechanical romances, pixel-quests,
Most any product stuttering-fast and bright,
The singers did not yield and often said
So long as there was one for whom the word
Could conjure vision, they would not cease work.
In time a singer proved the only one
—The oceanic last—but did not stop.
How silly they look now—who gave their best
To live as none would any longer live,
Like bubbling fountains in a wilderness.