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Calliope and Orpheus: A Tone

Calliope, the Muse, bore a son of Apollo

Orpheus, Orpheus

his father presented him a lyre

his mother, song

Lyrical and infinitely eloquent, the tones of the world

The notes of gods and men

Loves, passions, agonies

All that make the natural world turn

And men writhe at night

Songs alike the threshing of the waves upon the shore

Or the evening cacophony of the ponds

A song ever different, a song without end

As men of the world ne'er end their folly

But,

for Orpheus,

Calliope shook her head at men

smoothed the boy's Thracian locks

and patiently sat with him for days on end

to learn the foundations of song

its entablature, its pediments, the frieze


She, the greatest Muse,

imparted the invisible threads

And tones of all the world

their sounds, varied yet affirmed

as colours in marble

Songs as precious as ocean agate

as it were at the foot of the Colossus of Rhodes


The boy played his lute upon the shore

They say that mighty Apollo gave it to him

Mark how it never loses itself

I have never seen it tuned

Why would it be? Gentle Calliope, ever mother, protected him

And assured he grew to be greater then he ever thought himself

As goodly mothers do


Orpheus,

Wound song to bring the rains, and made the trees displace themselves

in dance

He found his true love.

Stepped upon the dark underworld to retrieve her...


Did not Calliope, in essence, do the same?


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