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Friday, April 28, 2006

Numberless are the world's wonders

There's a play called "Oedipus at Colonus" which was written by Sophocles; the play describes the end of Oedipus' tragic life. In 1985, it was put into a modern setting and accompanied by (mostly) gospel music, and went by the name "The Gospel at Colonus". I had to watch a video of it, starring Morgan Freeman, last term at school. It was fine, but there was one particular song which I found quite moving, so much so that I started writing down the lyrics as the video played. I tracked down that song last night and downloaded it. The sound you hear is just keyboard and 3 or 4 human voices, and the lyrics speak to the seemingly unstoppable greatness of mankind, but the one thing man can't tame is death. It seems that the lyrics to the song are taken from "Antigone", Sophocles' play which followed "Oedipus at Colonus". Check it out:

Numberless are the world's wonders, but none
More wonderful than man; the stormgray sea
Yields to his prows, the huge crests bear him high;
Earth, holy and inexhaustible, is graven
With shining furrows where his plows have gone
Year after year, the timeless labor of stallions.

The lightboned birds and beasts that cling to cover,
The lithe fish lighting their reaches of dim water,
All are taken, tamed in the net of his mind;
The lion on the hill, the wild horse windy-maned,
Resign to him; and his blunt yoke has broken
The sultry shoulders of the mountain bull.

Words also, and thought as rapid as air,
He fashions to his good use; statecraft is his,
And his the skill that deflects the arrows of snow,
the spears of winter rain: from every wind
He has made himself secure--from all but one:
In the late wind of death he cannot stand.

You can read the full text here.

This song haunted my dreams last night, and I can't get it out of my head. I wish I could post an mp3, but alas... However, I believe you can listen to a sample of it here.

1 comment:

BonikaStJames said...

It's interesting. At first reading this sort of irritated me... like looking at a large ego. I don't see the things listed here as great achievements rather the necessity of life - that all of these things are part of what man must do to exist: sow, reap, eat, communicate. When I see that it is all a set up to the inevitable, death, it actually seems ironic to me. It's a bit haunting that we cannot escape death but I think it's interesting to be fascinated by the things we do to avoid it in the first place. Life is a struggle against death but death will always, in the end, win.

I'll have to listen to and read the whole thing sometime.