Wednesday, 18 December 2013

What Song Orpheus Sang

Who stole the undying severed head of Orpheus from the priests that had guarded it on the Greek island of Naxos?
Why could Orpheus' father, Morpheus, not be seen to intervene in retrieving the head? Not be seen by whom?

Here are more unanswered questions. (See an earlier post.) By reading Neil Gaiman's Sandman series from beginning to end, we witness a long sequence of events from myth and prehistory through various periods of history down to scenes in the contemporary US, England and Greece. But there is always more that we do not know or understand. In fact, we are told that there are powers that even the Endless do not inquire into.

Page 67 of Fables And Reflections is three large panels without dialogue. We see Orpheus singing, guillotined heads singing in chorus and French revolutionaries listening. Each panel has a large caption in Johanna Constantine's handwriting. Although she had covered her ears, she heard parts of Orpheus' song about:

the baying, senseless cries of the mob;
the anger of women and men;
the worm that devours its own flesh;
freedom, liberty and love;
those who lead;
those raised by virtue or circumstance above the crowd;
those who manipulate the commonalty like puppet-masters or bear-baiters;
a dream and the ending of the dream.

She cannot remember the song but would sing it to many in authority if she could.

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