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Eurydice -- Sue Hubbard

Guest poem sent in by Pei Chi :
(Poem #1367) Eurydice
 I am not afraid as I descend,
 step by step, leaving behind the salt wind
 blowing up the corrugated river,

 the damp city streets, their sodium glare
 of rush-hour headlights pitted with pearls of rain;
 for my eyes still reflect the half remembered moon.

 Already your face recedes beneath the station clock,
 a damp smudge among the shadows
 mirrored in the train's wet glass,

 will you forget me? Steel tracks lead you out
 past cranes and crematoria,
 boat yards and bike sheds, ruby shards

 of roman glass and wolf-bone mummified in mud,
 the rows of curtained windows like eyelids
 heavy with sleep, to the city's green edge.

 Now I stop my ears with wax, hold fast
 the memory of the song you once whispered in my ear.
 Its echoes tangle like briars in my thick hair.

 You turned to look.
 Second fly past like birds.
 My hands grow cold. I am ice and cloud.

 This path unravels.
 Deep in hidden rooms filled with dust
 and sour night-breath the lost city is sleeping.

 Above the hurt sky is weeping,
 soaked nightingales have ceased to sing.
 Dusk has come early. I am drowning in blue.

 I dream of a green garden
 where the sun feathers my face
 like your once eager kiss.

 Soon, soon I will climb
 from this blackened earth
 into the diffident light.
-- Sue Hubbard
Sue Hubbard was commissioned to write this poem by the Arts Council and
British Film Institute for the Waterloo underpass leading to the IMAX Cinema
in London. The poet's take on the Greek myth of Orpheus (a wandering
minstrel, surely) and his lost wife Eurydice, from Eurydice's point of view,
so perfectly suits the location in which it was installed. I walked by it
recently late at night, and was quite captivated not only by the beauty of
the words, but by the dramatic effect of their physical arrangement on the
walls of the underpass. The lines of each verse are indented in a step
pattern and the verses placed one after another on either side of the
underpass walls so that the poem seems to unfurl itself towards you as you
'descend, step by step' - or as you 'climb...into the diffident light'.
That last verse will stay in my mind a long time as I travel London by its
ancient (and sometimes unreliable) underground rail system.

Bibliography can be found here:
http://www.netkonect.net/~athelstan/shubbard.html

More of Sue Hubbard's Public Art poems can be seen here:
http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/places/hubbard.htm

Pei Chi

For another poem very reminiscent of the same myth, see Margaret Atwood's
 "Variatons on the word Sleep", Poem #1093

160 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

David Vane said...

I have often walked past this poem on the walls and not been able to read
the whole of it but I am really please to have found it on the internet!
Lovely words
David Vane

Tamsin Bacchus said...

Yes, I love this one too. And seeing first in situ without its title I thought of it as ultimately optimistic until I found it on the web (not actually this site) and saw what it was called. (Eurydice was being led out of hades by Orpheus but part of the bargain was that he should not look behind him. But he did and she was sucked back into the dark...)

Tamsin Bacchus said...

Yes, I love this one too. And seeing first in situ without its title I thought of it as ultimately optimistic until I found it on the web (not actually this site) and saw what it was called. (Eurydice was being led out of hades by Orpheus but part of the bargain was that he should not look behind him. But he did and she was sucked back into the dark...)

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