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Echo and Narcissus (2014)

Echo and Narcissus

Chorus:
Liriope, a swarthy nymph of the fountain,
Was swept off her feet by the river Cephisus,
Rolled into the bed of a dark pool,
Then cast up on the shingle pregnant.
The boy she bore, even in his cradle,
Had a beauty that broke hearts.
She named the child Narcissus.
Gossips came to Tiresias:
‘Can the boy live long
With such perfect beauty?’
The seer replied:
‘Yes, unless he learns to know himself.’
Narcissus infatuated many.
His beauty had flowered.
But none dared be familiar,
None dared touch him.
A day came, out on the mountain,
When Echo saw him.
Echo:
Echo saw him.
Chorus:
Echo saw Narcissus.
She was in love.
She followed him
Like a starving wolf,
But had to wait
For some other to speak.
Narcissus strayed apart
From his companions.
Narcissus:
Where are you?
I’m here.
Echo:
I’m here, I’m here, I’m here, I’m here.
Narcissus:
I’ll stay here.
You come to me.
Echo:
Come to me,
To me, to me, to me.
Narcissus:
Stay there.
Echo:
Stay there, stay there, stay there.
Narcissus:
Let’s meet halfway. Come.
Echo:
Come, come, come, come.
Narcissus:
No, I would sooner be dead
Than let you touch me.
Echo:
Touch me, touch me, touch me, touch me.
Chorus:
Echo hid
In the deep woods.
She brooded over the pain.
Her bones turned into stone.
Her voice roamed off by itself.
Echo:
Let Narcissus love and suffer.
Let him love and know it is hopeless.
Let him, like Echo, perish of anguish.
Chorus:
Nemesis, the corrector,
Heard this prayer and granted it.
Weary with hunting and the hot sun
Narcissus found a pool.
As he drank
A strange new thirst
Entered his body,
Entered his eyes.
He could not believe
The beauty of those eyes
That gazed into his own.
As the taste of water flooded him
So did love.
Narcissus:
Was there ever a love
As cruel as mine?
Was there ever a love
As futureless as mine?
We are kept apart
Neither by seas nor mountains
Nor the locked-up gates of cities.
Who are you? Come out.
Come up onto the land.
I never saw beauty
To compare with yours.
I stretch my arms to you,
You stretch yours as eagerly to me.
You laugh when I laugh.
When I tell you my love
I see your lips
Seeming to tell me yours.
My beauty is in full bloom –
But I am a cut flower.
Let death come quickly –
Carry me off
Where this pain can never follow.
Chorus:
Narcissus wept into the pool.
His image blurred.
Narcissus:
Don’t leave me.
Chorus:
Like wax near the flame
He melted –
Consumed by his love.
He disappeared from his own eyes.
Narcissus:
Alas!
Echo:
Alas.
Narcissus:
Farewell you incomparable boy,
I have loved you in vain.
Narcissus:
Farewell.
Echo:
Farewell.
Chorus:
When he entered the Land of the Dead
Narcissus ran straight to the banks of the Styx.
He gazed down at the smear of his shadow
Trembling on the fearful current.
Original text from Tales of Ovid by Ted Hughes (1930-1988), adapted by Ryan Wigglesworth with the kind permission of the Ted Hughes estate, Faber & Faber Ltd and Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Poet

Edward James Hughes OM OBE FRSL was an English poet and children's writer. Critics frequently rank him as one of the best poets of his generation, and one of the twentieth century's greatest writers. He served as Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death. In 2008 The Times ranked Hughes fourth on their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".


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