Millwood Hargrave’s poetry was a real strength of the performance, the writing containing an awareness of its literary context, acknowledging and playing on this deftly, never labouring the point. The voice of the poems (mostly Eurydice, with some choral poems) had a directness that at points was striking and beautiful. She shortened the protagonists’ names to ‘o’ and ‘e’, turning Orpheus and Eurydice into modern shorthand, ciphers for sound even, as highlighted vowels that resounded through the poems.
The most memorable poem was ‘Host’, in which swans nest beneath Eurydice’s scalp, leaving her ‘brain full of eggs’. The images stuck afterwards, and the vividness of natural imagery brought back Ovid’s Metamorphoses, to the point where I confused one with the other until I looked them up.
In Book XI, Ovid similarly describes nature’s relationship with the mythical characters, here in grief:
“The trees that often gathered to your song, shedding their leaves, mourned you with bared crowns” (A. S. Kline’s translation)
‘Like light,/it is only at a distance/this place holds any shape’
from the poem Sapling seems to shine with the ‘light’ motifs in the paintings, positing the idea of the particular clarity the myth takes on from the viewpoint of today, so distant from its origin.
Full review here:
Aisha Farr on œ