11 July 2014

The Play's the Thing

“The Play's the Thing, wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.”

― William ShakespeareHamlet

It’s time to stage Oedipus Rex again
to discover—not to be told—that we
answers both the murder mystery and
the riddle of the Sphinx.  It’s time again
to lead—to play the chorus too—to beg
and to respond—to find the cause of our
destruction, famine, sickness, death and stop.

Oedipus walks among his people to hear
their plaint and vows to rid the land of stains
and right the balance nature longs to have. 
Multiple clues from messengers arrive
revealing, finally, that he himself
is culpable, that he murdered order
at crossroads that led him unknown to sin.

It’s time to stage Oedipus Rex again
to discover—not to be told—that we
violate mother earth and kill the skies
that we who learned to walk on two legs now
limp life to its end.  We must lead—and be
the chorus too—to beg and to respond
to why and how can we repair, amend.

Oedipus listened but it was his wife
that led: with her own hair she hung herself.
And Oedipus took pins that held his robe
to strike his eyes till blind and naked he
stood with chorus to face his gods and cry
O why did you reward us with death
coiled deep in all we called our gain and wealth?

It’s time to stage Oedipus Rex again
to discover—not to be told—that God
makes stories lead and teach, makes choruses
frame quests for truth, tells parables to show
the way to the same truths that live today:
that we must stop the play of destruction,
imprisonment, famine, sickness and waste.

Oedipus leans on his daughters to walk
toward his end, and pity moves his gods
to weave social reconciliation 
into the tale.  Ismene plays docile
acceptanceAntigone plays virtue
and rebellion.  Again, againwe watch
ourselves as blind old men lead blind again

A rough draft written for Corey's 

      I Must Refrain....     

at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads.

Copyright © 2014  S.L.Chast


Kerry O'Connor said...

Wow, Susan! This is such a significant poem - it should be published in a more formal publication, and not allowed to disappear in a few days time. This is immense in scope and so topical, when one considers the leaders and followers of today's political arenas around the world. You point to antiquity to reveal the uncomfortable truths of today with every sense of the dramatic, and subtlety of a poet who knows her craft.

we who learned to walk on two legs now
limp life to its end...

I'm glad I read it first here, hot off the press. I'm blown away!

Maude Lynn said...

Brilliant work, Susan.

Anjum Wasim Dar said...

Truth expressed with justice and the best example.Literature is a real reflection of life, those who have studied Oedipus Rex will share the same thoughts - events and circumstances are similar here but very few people study Literature.Over the years the subject has been ignored and criticized As a Teacher of Literature I highly appreciate your work .Brilliant and Excellent.

Helen said...

'We must lead, and be the chorus too' .. very few 'talk out thoughts' with insight and intelligence as you do. This is amazing ....

Mary said...

I have never read Oedipus Rex. Your poem begs me to read it. A stunning right, Susan.

Herotomost said...

Ouch, and I mean that in a good way...lol. Amazing scope and writing. Man, I am flabbergasted. This is amazing Susan, I can't believe something this awesome came from that ugly old prompt. Deep, insightful, a great play on literature and one of the great stories of our time. I feel a bit overwhelmed, so, so glad you came by, this is poetry. thank you!

Anonymous said...

Susan, this has a wonderful cadence that goes so well with its subject matter--really well done. And poor Oedipus--well here we have the blind leading the blind--thanks. k .

Magaly Guerrero said...

I shall repeat some brilliant words I just read, "Stop! should happen instantly, should never need repeating, yet here it is again and again riving my heart." Such truth--hurtful because its reality is ignored by those who pretend they don't see it. By the once who refuse to stop because they don't think the rot is touching them. The blind leading the blind... And worse, the seeing being dragged by those whose eyes are only socket decorations.

I felt like shouting this one. Using my former School of Infantry Instructor voice.

Unknown said...

Kerry said it welll.... I do agree this poem is amazing and does not deserve to be forgotten too soon...

Brian Miller said...

tight piece...and if only we could...
perhaps we would change our ways...
the rhythm of this is great...esp in that stanza on
god using stories and parables...

tight piece susan.

Jim said...

Thank goodness for having the answers for us, Susan. Those blind leading the blind hopefully will keep on going in circles so that they don't get lost from us. I loved reading your poem, I had expectations but then I and other readers really knew this play so we smile and love you for your hard work in building us up. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

And I agree. Acceptance must begin in the soul of each individual before it can be offered to another.