Melpomene Speaks

melpomene-simmons-highsmith

 

by Roslynn Pryor

Melpomene Speaks

I inspire tragedy,
yes, that’s true,

or rather not tragedy itself
but songs and tales
about events called tragic,
of downfalls and mishaps,
of cataclysms and acts of gods,

and anyway that’s not how I got my start;
I sang, I inspired sweet lyric and tune,
the muse of melodies and harmonious sounds;
my name means to celebrate with dance and song,
from the shepherds on the hills
to the chorus on the stage;

apparently I was pretty good at it—
even Dionysus liked to hang with me,
thought I was fun,

but audiences prefer the sensational
and ugly gets more likes than nice

and the green field odes and happy goat songs turned dark,
and before too long, the chorus turned to tragedy,
like the chorus always does,
the incessant pounding of the minor key.

Listen. (Or watch the news.)
Can you hear them now,
intoning devastation and doom?

And for me, the real tragedy of it is,
though I’m good at what I do,
specializing can be a drag—
how much I miss the good ode days.

Image Credit: By Artist Edward Emerson Simmons 
(1852–1931).Photographed 2007 by Carol Highsmith 
(1946–), who explicitly placed the photograph in the
public domain. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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21 thoughts on “Melpomene Speaks

    1. childofaslan says:

      Thank you, Shrink! I’m actually learning about the muses by getting to write about them. I’ve never been able to keep them all straight, but I’m making headway now. Thanks for your kind words.

  1. Laura Hile says:

    Poor Melpomene. Because ugly does get more likes than nice.

    Roslynn, you dish up tragic truths in such a way that the words dance and swirl. And somehow you leave us smiling.

    1. childofaslan says:

      Thank you, Laura! You’ve described what I strive for, even if I only achieve it very occasionally. Mostly I’m just grateful for the little nuggets that kindly present themselves from time to time. Thank you for your gracious words.

  2. Vis says:

    This is a beautifully written piece. I loved her name and learning what it meant- celebrate and dance. I would definitely hang with her. Via

    1. childofaslan says:

      Thanks, Crystal. I’d like to blame the U.S. election, but truth be told, that’s just a magnifier of what already exists. I think I’ll choose beauty and gratitude and dancing.

  3. Carolyn Studer says:

    and the green field odes and happy goat songs turned dark,
    and before too long, the chorus turned to tragedy,
    like the chorus always does,
    the incessant pounding of the minor key.

    Listen. (Or watch the news.)

    Oh, loved this. And a wonderful last line.

  4. JBHendricks says:

    Great play on words with, “how much I miss the good ode days”.
    This piece seems to embody the beauty of writing to me. It says, without necessarily coming out and saying it, so many things.
    “and ugly gets more likes than nice”. The use of the word “likes” gave Melpomene’s voice a modern edge I thought, and really created a neat twist to your piece. I don’t know if you meant for that when writing, or if it is just how my mind is interpreting it but it created a parallel between mythology and technology that fascinated me.
    Fantastic writing!

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