Orpheus Quotes

Quotes tagged as "orpheus" Showing 1-21 of 21
Meghan O'Rourke
“Yet the story of Orpheus, it occurs to me, is not just about the desire of the living to resuscitate the dead but about the ways in which the dead drag us along into their shadowy realm because we cannot let them go. So we follow them into the Underworld, descending, descending, until one day we turn and make our way back.”
Meghan O'Rourke

Jaye Wells
“If wishes solved problems, the world would be a very different place.”
Jaye Wells, Silver-Tongued Devil

Denise Levertov
“Fire he sang,
that trees fear, and I, a tree, rejoiced in its flames.
New buds broke forth from me though it was full summer.
As though his lyre (now I knew its name)
were both frost and fire, its chords flamed
up to the crown of me.
I was seed again.
I was fern in the swamp.
I was coal.

("A Tree Telling of Orpheus")”
Denise Levertov

Cornelia Funke
“Mortimer's face twisted when the Piper pressed his knife against his ribs. Oh yes, he's obviously made the wrong enemies in this story, thought Orpheus. And the wrong friends. But that was high-minded heroes for you. Stupid. ”
Cornelia Funke

Céline Sciamma
“Perhaps he makes a choice. He chooses the memory of her. That’s why he turns. He doesn’t make the lover’s choice, but the poet’s.”
Céline Sciamma, Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Kaitlin Bevis
“[Hades] returned his attention to the playlist while I eased the car back on the road. His fingers flipped deftly over the screen. 'Orpheus...Dusk...Orpheus...Dusk...do you have anything on here that doesn't make people want to jump off a cliff?'
... 'I'm driving. When you learn to drive something more modern than a horse and buggy, we can listen to your music.'
'I can drive!'
'Did they even have cars the last time you can to the surface?' I teased.
'Not counting the minute and a half you spent rescuing me last year?'
Hades fell silent, and I laughed. 'I didn't think so.”
Kaitlin Bevis

Rainer Maria Rilke
“The one so loved that a single lyre
raised more lament than lamenting women ever did;
and that from the lament a world arose in which
everything was there again: woods and valley
and path and village, field and river and animal;
and around this lament-world, just as
around the other earth, a sun
and a starry silent heaven turned,
a lament-heaven of disordered stars -- :
This one so loved.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

Carol Ann Duffy
“Girls, I was dead and down
in the Underworld, a shade,
a shadow of my former self, nowhen.
It was a place where language stopped,
a black full stop, a black hole
Where the words had to come to an end.
And end they did there,
last words,
famous or not.
It suited me down to the ground.

So imagine me there,
out of this world,
then picture my face in that place
of Eternal Repose,
in the one place you’d think a girl would be safe
from the kind of a man
who follows her round
writing poems,
hovers about
while she reads them,
calls her His Muse,
and once sulked for a night and a day
because she remarked on his weakness for abstract nouns.
Just picture my face
when I heard -
Ye Gods -
a familiar knock-knock at Death’s door.

Big O.
Larger than life.
With his lyre
and a poem to pitch, with me as the prize.

Things were different back then.
For the men, verse-wise,
Big O was the boy. Legendary.
The blurb on the back of his books claimed
that animals,
aardvark to zebra,
flocked to his side when he sang,
fish leapt in their shoals
at the sound of his voice,
even the mute, sullen stones at his feet
wept wee, silver tears.

Bollocks. (I’d done all the typing myself,
I should know.)
And given my time all over again,
rest assured that I’d rather speak for myself
than be Dearest, Beloved, Dark Lady, White Goddess etc., etc.

In fact girls, I’d rather be dead.

But the Gods are like publishers,
usually male,
and what you doubtless know of my tale
is the deal.

Orpheus strutted his stuff.

The bloodless ghosts were in tears.
Sisyphus sat on his rock for the first time in years.
Tantalus was permitted a couple of beers.
The woman in question could scarcely believe her ears.

Like it or not,
I must follow him back to our life -
Eurydice, Orpheus’ wife -
to be trapped in his images, metaphors, similes,
octaves and sextets, quatrains and couplets,
elegies, limericks, villanelles,
histories, myths…

He’d been told that he mustn’t look back
or turn round,
but walk steadily upwards,
myself right behind him,
out of the Underworld
into the upper air that for me was the past.
He’d been warned
that one look would lose me
for ever and ever.

So we walked, we walked.
Nobody talked.

Girls, forget what you’ve read.
It happened like this -
I did everything in my power
to make him look back.
What did I have to do, I said,
to make him see we were through?
I was dead. Deceased.
I was Resting in Peace. Passé. Late.
Past my sell-by date…
I stretched out my hand
to touch him once
on the back of the neck.
Please let me stay.
But already the light had saddened from purple to grey.

It was an uphill schlep
from death to life
and with every step
I willed him to turn.
I was thinking of filching the poem
out of his cloak,
when inspiration finally struck.
I stopped, thrilled.
He was a yard in front.
My voice shook when I spoke -
Orpheus, your poem’s a masterpiece.
I’d love to hear it again…

He was smiling modestly,
when he turned,
when he turned and he looked at me.

What else?
I noticed he hadn’t shaved.
I waved once and was gone.

The dead are so talented.
The living walk by the edge of a vast lake
near, the wise, drowned silence of the dead.”
Carol Ann Duffy, The World's Wife

Rainer Maria Rilke
“It is all about praising.
Created to praise, his heart
is a winepress destined to break,
that makes for us an eternal wine.

His voice never chokes with dust
when words for the sacred come through.
All becomes vineyard. All becomes grape,
ripening in the southland of his being.

Nothing, not even the rot
in royal tombs, or the shadow cast by a god,
gives the lie to his praising.

He is ever the messenger,
venturing far through the doors of the dead,
bearing a bowl of fresh-picked fruit.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus

Rainer Maria Rilke
“The trees which you planted as a child
Have long since grown too heavy; you do not deceive them.
But the winds ... but the spaces ...
Raise no monument. For it is the roses
Which salute Him year by year with their petals.
This, you see, is Orpheus”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus

Ann Wroe
“Time slipped and slid around him, unanchored by any fact that could be verified. Perhaps it did not matter. 'Where does our story take place, and when?' asked Cocteau at the start of Orphée. 'It's the privilege of legends to be ageless. Comme il vous plaira. As you please.”
Ann Wroe, Orpheus: The Song of Life

Ann Wroe
“It was generally believed, said Theophilus, that Orpheus learned his music from the birds. His small voice, piping after theirs, filled with all the secret stories of the earth.”
Ann Wroe, Orpheus: The Song of Life

Laurie Perez
“Orpheus never got the memo that loss is a ticket to resilience, not some sewer of revenge in which to wallow, marinating selfish, hellbent purpose for centuries on end.”
Laurie Perez, The Power of Amie Martine

“Eurydice, forgive the Winds, forgive the Sun, forgive the Moon, forgive the Stars, forgive the Rain, for never loving you as I will.”
Michan Bakhuis, Lament to Eurydice

Ann Wroe
“Tuning must come first. Each recital begins with a careful tightening of the pegs on the cross-bar, twisting them in their socket of red threads as each string is plucked and tested. He uses his thumb for this, softer and subtler than the plectrum, his head bent to the vibrating string and his lips slightly open, breathing quickly, as over the body of a lover.”
Ann Wroe, Orpheus: The Song of Life

Jennifer Egan
“He sensed between them an understanding too deep to articulate: the unspeakable knowledge that everything is lost.”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Laurie Perez
“Time’s irrelevant from his perspective; he could pursue this for centuries and never age or harvest a single, necessary epiphany.”
Laurie Perez, The Power of Amie Martine

Laurie Perez
“At the last minute, he broke the rule and he looked. He was so rapt in his view of the light at the end of the tunnel, he got excited, tuned up, he got crazy nervous and for a second he wavered in his confidence and he looked! To confirm or affirm or just firm up,’ students laughing ‘his manly love for her and in that motion of divine stupidity, he killed her dead forever with a glance. Hades ripped her back into his den and that was, proverbially, that.’

A girl across from me says bitterly, ‘No second, second chance for Orpheus.’

‘He was fucked,’ D continues, nodding. ‘Not because the gods were heartless, but because he fucked up. The guilt of that. Can you imagine? Spent the rest of his pathetic days wallowing, lamenting, composing (or was it decomposing?) heartbreaking tunes upon his lyre, dissolving in grief and music and art, never being the least bit happy or lovable. The saddest sap of all. How do we tell a story like that without being sappy? Oh woe! How do we shape into lines our most harrowing mistakes and losses without drenching them in sticky poetic sap?”
Laurie Perez, The Look of Amie Martine

Jennifer Egan
“Ted rose early the next morning and took a taxi to the Museo Nazionale, cool, echoey, empty of tourists despite the fact that it was spring. He drifted among dusty busts of Hadrian and the various Caesars, experiencing a physical quickening in the presence of so much marble that verged on the erotic. He sensed the proximity of Orpheus and Eurydice before he saw it, felt its cool weight across the room but prolonged the time before he faced it, reminding himself of the events leading up to the moment it described: Orpheus and Eurydice in love and newly married; Eurydice dying of a snakebite while fleeing the advances of a shepherd; Orpheus descending to the underworld, filling its dank corridors with music from his lyre as he sang of his longing for his wife; Pluto granting Eurydice's release from death on the sole condition that Orpheus not look back at her during their ascent. And then the hapless instant when, out of fear for his bride as she stumbled in the passage, Orpheus forgot himself and turned.
Ted stepped toward the relief. He felt as if he's walked inside it, so completely did it enclose and affect him. It was the moment before Eurydice must descend to the underworld a second time, when she and Orpheus are saying goodbye. What moved Ted, mashed some delicate glassware in his chest, was the quiet of their interaction, the absence of drama or tears as they gazed at each other, touching gently. He sensed between them an understanding too deep to articulate: the unspeakable knowledge that everything is lost. (p. 211)”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Giorgio Colli
“E tu troverai alla sinistra delle case di Ade una fonte, e accanto a essa un bianco cipresso diritto:
a questa fonte non accostarti neppure, da presso.
E ne troverai un'altra, fredda acqua che scorre dalla palude di Mnemosine: e davanti stanno i custodi.
Di' loro: Sono figlio di Terra e di Cielo stellante, inoltre la mia stirpe è Celeste; e questo sapete anche voi.
Sono riarsa di sete e muoio: ma date, subito, fredda acqua che scorre dalla palude di Mnemosine.
Ed essi ti lasceranno bere dalla fonte divina, e in seguito tu regnerai assieme agli altri eroi.
Di Mnemosine, questo è il sepolcro..."
Laminetta trovata a Petelia

Oblio e memoria sono i due strumenti del dissetamento. Se si beve dalla corrente dell'oblio si dimentica tutto e si rinasce a una nuova vita, cioè la sete è soltanto ingannata, e l'arsura non tarda a ripresentarsi in una nuova individuazione. Ma se si beve dalla fonte di Mnemosine, come testimoniano queste laminette, la memoria fa recuperare la conoscenza del passato e dell'immutabile, l'uomo riconosce la sua origine divina e si identifica in Dioniso, e l'arsura non viene spenta, ma dissetata, da una gelida, divina, prorompente conoscenza.”
Giorgio Colli, La sapienza greca, I. Dioniso, Apollo, Eleusi, Orfeo, Museo, Iperborei, Enigma

J.M. Coetzee
“Orpheus instead of Apollo. The ecastatic instead of the rational. Someone who changes form, changes colour, according to his surroundings. Someone who appeals to women. Because it is women who live closest to the ground. Someone who moves among the people, whom they can touch - put their hand into the side of, feel the wound, smell the blood.”
J.M. Coetzee, Elizabeth Costello