'Chorus From Oedipus At Colonos' by Anthony Hecht

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What is unwisdom but the lusting after
Longevity: to be old and full of days!
For the vast and unremitting tide of years
Casts up to view more sorrowful things than joyful;
And as for pleasures, once beyond our prime,
They all drift out of reach, they are washed away.
And the same gaunt bailiff calls upon us all.
Summoning into Darkness, to those wards
Where is no music, dance, or marriage hymn
That soothes or gladdens.To the tenements of Death.Not to be born is, past all yearning, best.
And second best is, having seen the light.
To return at once to deep oblivion.
When youth has gone, and the baseless dreams of youth,
What misery does not then jostle man's elbow,
Join him as a companion, share his bread?
Betrayal, envy, calumny and bloodshed
Move in on him, and finally Old Age--
Infirm, despised Old Age--joins in his ruin,
The crowning taunt of his indignities.So is it with that man, not just with me.
He seems like a frail jetty facing North
Whose pilings the waves batter from all quarters;
From where the sun comes up, from where it sets,
From freezing boreal regions, from below,
A whole winter of miseries now assails him,
Thrashes his sides and breaks over his head.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Chorus From Oedipus At Colonos: A Poem of Tragedy and Redemption

Anthony Hecht's "Chorus From Oedipus At Colonos" is an evocative and powerful poem that draws on the rich tradition of Greek tragedy to explore themes of mortality, fate, and redemption.

The poem centers around the character of Oedipus, who, after a lifetime of tragedy and misfortune, has finally come to the end of his journey. He is an old man now, blind and fragile, but still possessed of a fierce will and an unyielding spirit. As he makes his way to the sacred grove of the Eumenides, he is accompanied by a chorus of old men, who sing of his destiny and his legacy.

Hecht's language is both dense and lyrical, full of rich imagery and allusions to classical mythology. He paints a vivid picture of Oedipus's journey, from his youth as a proud and arrogant king to his exile and eventual redemption. The poem is a meditation on the fragility of human life, the inevitability of death, and the enduring power of the human spirit.

At its core, "Chorus From Oedipus At Colonos" is a poem about the transformative power of tragedy. Oedipus, once a figure of great arrogance and pride, has been humbled by his experiences and brought to the brink of despair. But it is in this moment of crisis that he finds his true strength, his unyielding will and his unbreakable spirit. He is a symbol of the human capacity for endurance, and the poem celebrates his triumph over adversity.

Hecht's use of language is particularly striking in this regard. His words are carefully chosen and crafted, full of vivid imagery and metaphorical depth. The poem is a masterclass in the art of poetry, using language to evoke powerful emotions and convey complex ideas.

One of the key themes of the poem is the idea of fate and destiny. Oedipus is a tragic figure precisely because he is powerless to escape his fate. He is doomed from birth to a life of suffering and despair, and no amount of will or determination can change that fact. This sense of inevitability is echoed throughout the poem, with the chorus singing of the "ironbound fate" that has led Oedipus to this point.

But despite this sense of fatalism, the poem is ultimately a hopeful one. Oedipus may be unable to escape his fate, but he is not defeated by it. He is able to find redemption and acceptance in the face of his suffering, and he emerges as a symbol of the human capacity for resilience and endurance. The poem is a testament to the enduring power of the human spirit, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

In conclusion, "Chorus From Oedipus At Colonos" is a powerful and evocative poem that draws on the rich tradition of Greek tragedy to explore themes of mortality, fate, and redemption. Anthony Hecht's masterful use of language and imagery creates a vivid and powerful portrait of Oedipus, a tragic figure who nevertheless finds redemption in the face of his suffering. This poem is a true masterpiece of the art of poetry, and a testament to the enduring power of the human spirit.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Poetry Chorus from Oedipus at Colonus is a classic piece of literature that has stood the test of time. Written by Anthony Hecht, this poem is a beautiful and powerful representation of the human condition. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and language used in the Poetry Chorus from Oedipus at Colonus.

The poem begins with the chorus introducing themselves as the daughters of the blind prophet, Tiresias. They are mourning the loss of their father and are seeking solace in the beauty of nature. The opening lines of the poem set the tone for the rest of the piece, as the chorus describes the beauty of the land around them. The language used is rich and descriptive, painting a vivid picture of the landscape. The use of imagery is particularly effective, as it allows the reader to visualize the scene and feel the emotions of the chorus.

As the poem progresses, the chorus begins to reflect on the nature of life and death. They speak of the inevitability of death and the fleeting nature of life. The language used here is particularly powerful, as it conveys a sense of urgency and desperation. The use of repetition is also effective, as it emphasizes the chorus's message and creates a sense of rhythm and flow.

One of the most striking aspects of the Poetry Chorus from Oedipus at Colonus is its structure. The poem is divided into stanzas, each with its own distinct theme and message. This structure allows the poem to flow seamlessly from one idea to the next, creating a sense of unity and coherence. The use of repetition and imagery also helps to tie the stanzas together, creating a cohesive whole.

The themes explored in the Poetry Chorus from Oedipus at Colonus are universal and timeless. The poem speaks to the human condition, exploring the nature of life, death, and the search for meaning. The chorus reflects on the transience of life and the inevitability of death, but also finds solace in the beauty of nature and the power of memory. The poem is a powerful reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of cherishing every moment.

The language used in the Poetry Chorus from Oedipus at Colonus is rich and evocative. Hecht uses a variety of literary devices to convey his message, including imagery, repetition, and metaphor. The use of metaphor is particularly effective, as it allows the reader to see the world in a new light. For example, when the chorus speaks of the "golden light of dawn," they are not just describing a physical phenomenon, but also the beauty and wonder of life itself.

In conclusion, the Poetry Chorus from Oedipus at Colonus is a masterpiece of literature that speaks to the human condition in a profound and powerful way. The themes explored in the poem are universal and timeless, and the language used is rich and evocative. Hecht's use of structure, repetition, and metaphor creates a sense of unity and coherence that makes the poem a joy to read. The Poetry Chorus from Oedipus at Colonus is a true classic that will continue to inspire and move readers for generations to come.

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