Monday, August 18, 2014

Newspapers are for the Birds!

CHORUS. Hi! Epops! do you hear me?

EPOPS. What's the matter?

CHORUS. Take them off to dine well and call your mate, the melodious Procné, whose songs are worthy of the Muses; she will delight our leisure moments.

PISTHETAERUS. Oh! I conjure you, accede to their wish; for this delightful bird will leave her rushes at the sound of your voice; for the sake of the gods, let her come here, so that we may contemplate the nightingale.

EPOPS. Let it be as you desire. Come forth, Procné, show yourself to these strangers.

PISTHETAERUS. Oh! great Zeus! what a beautiful little bird! what a dainty form! what brilliant plumage!

EUELPIDES. Do you know how dearly I should like to split her legs for her?

PISTHETAERUS. She is dazzling all over with gold, like a young girl.

EUELPIDES. Oh! how I should like to kiss her!

PISTHETAERUS. Why, wretched man, she has two little sharp points on her beak.

EUELPIDES. I would treat her like an egg, the shell of which we remove before eating it; I would take off her mask and then kiss her pretty face.

EPOPS. Let us go in.

PISTHETAERUS. Lead the way, and may success attend us.

CHORUS. Lovable golden bird, whom I cherish above all others, you, whom I associate with all my songs, nightingale, you have come, you have come, to show yourself to me and to charm me with your notes. Come, you, who play spring melodies upon the harmonious flute, lead off our anapaests.

Weak mortals, chained to the earth, creatures of clay as frail as the foliage of the woods, you unfortunate race, whose life is but darkness, as unreal as a shadow, the illusion of a dream, hearken to us, who are immortal beings, ethereal, ever young and occupied with eternal thoughts, for we shall teach you about all celestial matters; you shall know thoroughly what is the nature of the birds, what the origin of the gods, of the rivers, of Erebus, and Chaos; thanks to us, Prodicus will envy you your knowledge.
Aristophanes, "The Birds"

3 comments:

FreeThinke said...

Perfectly beautiful, appealing little thing, isn't it? I too feel a strange urge to want to hold it and kiss it -- ever-so gently, of course.

Hans Christian Andersen understood the foolishness of trying to capture ephemeral forms of beauty that properly belong only to Nature. Such attempts are bound to end as the proverbial attempt to reach The End of the Rainbow ends, or any attempt to "carry moonbeams home in a jar."

His tale called The Nightingale tells of a young emperor so enchanted with the bird that he ordered it captured and put in a cage, so it could sing for him exclusively.

Of course, once the bird was captured, it never sang again, despite being well fed and elegantly housed in a place of honor in the palace.

Alost as if by a miracle, one day it dawned on the emperor that he should free the little bird since it was obviously so unhappy.

And so, the little creature sang again as it flew up into the bright blue sky -- and came back periodically ever after to sing for the emperor in gratitude for the emperor's kindness.

A beautiful tale.

I'm sure it must have its roots in ancient lore predating even the Greeks.

Thersites said...

...and reprised in variation, over the centuries, time and time again.

FreeThinke said...

SWEENEY TODD! That wondrous creation. One of the few really GOOD things produced in the American Musical Theater.

Yes, of course, the theme of Freedom v. Captivity is as old as Life, itself, and presents possibly THE most valuable lesson we could ever hope to learn. But, Alas! "we" -- as a "species" at least -- never do.

Jesus, who is now so regrettably out of fashion, said it this way:

"If you would have your life, first you must be willing to lose it."

You can't truly love anything, unless you are willing to let it go.

In wanting too much just for ourselves, we often wind up with nothing.