Friday, 16 August 2013

Orpheus

Twenty four hours ago, I started to read Anderson's "Peek! I See You!" and turned in. Now I finish reading "Goat Song" (Homeward And Beyond, New York, 1976) before turning in.

The story continues to quote good poetry. Next is Tom A Bedlam. The conclusion of this verse was quoted at the beginning of an sf novel and I always identified with it:

"I summoned am to tourney
"Ten leagues beyond the wide world's edge.
"Me thinks it is no journey." (p. 157)

What I did not remember till later was the immediately preceding line:

"By a knight of ghosts and shadows..."

It is appropriate that Anderson quotes this verse in a short story because he titled a haunting Dominic Flandry novel from it.

Also quoted is:

"Golden lads and girls all must
"As chimney-sweepers come to dust." (p. 158)

Richard Burton read that on British television after a disaster when 116 school children and 28 adults died in a Welsh mining village. (Google Aberfan disaster.)

We know the story of Orpheus and we see how Anderson's characters play out this story again. There are two endings. Orpheus' loss of Eurydice is the first. At the very end of his story, Anderson is back on track as Orpheus approaches the wild women who will kill him.

But something else has happened in between. Both Harper and SUM, the world-controlling computer that had temporarily restored Harper's wife, realize that they have re-enacted a myth that was previously unknown to them? Harper becomes a prophet against SUM? His death is necessary so that his followers may believe that he is raised and immortal? (p. 164) He has said he will return and the equinox is three days away. (p. 165) Here we recognize both a theme from other Anderson works and another myth but do all these elements quite fit together?

4 comments:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    I am, unfortunately, not as well as you seem to be in poetry. Altho I have read with pleasure "Beowulf," "The Song of Roland," Dante's DIVINE COMEDY, many of the poems of Kipling, etc. But, I thought the line about "By a knight of ghosts and shadows.." came from Shakespeare?

    Sean

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  2. You might find this of interest, guys.
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Tom_o%27_Bedlam

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  3. Sean,
    "By a knight of ghosts and shadows..." is from Tom A Bedlam, Anonymous. "Golden lads and girls all must..." is from Shakespeare, Cymbeline.
    Paul.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      Cool! I googled "Tom o Bedlam" and found the stanza where you read the line about "..a knight of ghosts and shadows." Nice to find the likely source for Anderson's A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS.

      Sean

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