Autumnal Tragedy and Comedy

Monday Morning Musings

“Numberless are the world’s wonders, but none

More wonderful than man. . .

Words also, and thought as rapid as air,

He fashions to his good use. . .

Oh fate of man, working both good and evil!”

–Sophocles, Antigone

The play was Antigone,

A play over two thousand years old.

The chorus entered,

Stark and bleak,

Mouths open in mask-like images of tragedy

And horror

Resembling the figure of Munch’s The Scream.

Greek and English

What are we watching?

I’m not certain.

Afterward, we walk,

My husband and I.

It is a beautiful October day.

Far from that tragedy

In time

And space

Far from Thebes

Or Ankara,

For that matter.

We stroll through the city streets

Through “the Gayborhood.”

The 25th annual “Outfest”

Is taking place.

Men holding hands,

Women holding hands,

Men and women holding hands.

Love is love.



People dancing in the closed off streets.

We just miss a hula hoop competition.

We walk some more,

To a wine café,

Wine for me,

Beer for him,

Cheese to share,

And coffee after.

We discuss the play.

The spitting and the drool

From the actors’ mouths.

“Well, it was visceral,” I say.

“That’s not exactly the word I was going to use,” he said.

“More like gross and disgusting.”

I have to agree.

But I also have to admit the power of live performance—

Because I can’t stop thinking about it.

A play thousands of years old.

How many times has it been performed?

Humans have new ways of killing now.

And new tragedies occur daily.

Families torn apart

By violence.

Women raped.

Children dead.

Human tragedy

Human comedy

We create beauty and destruction.

And please and appease the gods.

Art reflecting life

And life imitating art.

But here and now

It is a beautiful October day.

There are rainbows.

There is love.

We see fans ecstatic about the football game.

There are some happy endings, too.

Walking through the streets of a modern city

Reflecting on life in one long ago.

20 thoughts on “Autumnal Tragedy and Comedy

  1. It is amazing when we think some works of art have survived all that time, and some things change that little. I guess it’s ‘the human condition’. It sounds like a lovely day full of contrasts.

  2. Yes, love is love, and it would be nice if there was more of it, but I suppose with humans we will always have a need for the tragic as well as the comedic. Interesting and beautiful musings, Merril. Makes me wonder about the people who first saw the play and what their thoughts might have been. Thousands of years ago. Amazing that it has been around all that time.

  3. Your poem was packed with so many images and so much meaning that I’m not quite sure where to start and I’m about to head to bed so my brain is in slow motion. One thought that comes to mind is “the more things change, the more they stay the same”.
    Hope you are having a good week. I have been busy with medical appointments for myself and Miss is doing well with her speech sessions but she had that today too. The doctors visit in Sydney allowed me to get stuck into Geoff Le Pard’s first book. “Dead Flies & Sherry Trifle” I think. I’m really enjoying it. Been trying to get off the stories, photos and poems written up from the trip to Byron Bay. They place is so creatively stimulating that I go into some kind of overload and I wrote an incredible amount.
    Anyway, had better get to bed soon. Take care & best wishes,

    • Thanks so much, Rowena, for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed my post.
      It’s Tuesday morning, as I’m writing this, and I hope you got to bed. I’ve been to the gym, and now I need to get to real work. Yesterday, my younger daughter and I had some mother-daughter time, since she was off from school for Columbus Day. 🙂
      Good luck with your medical appointments and writing.

      • Thanks, Merril. Have had a slow catch up day today. Hoping my fruit smoothie might give me a lift but had so much on good to chill out xx Rowena

  4. I can’t understand why man is at his most inventive when creating new ways to kill. Back when the play was being written some people knew killing accomplished nothing except heartache and more death. We haven’t learned from the plays, the wars and the pain of this past 2000 years, what’s it going to take?
    Man with man, woman with woman or man with woman, it’s all love to be celebrated. Black with white or brown or yellow, we’re all the same as people though some have more opportunities than others as it is with rich and poor. It’s time we evened out the balance and looked after one another.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

  5. You have a wonderfully syncretic mind, Merril. You seek out new experiences and blend them with old in original and creative ways. I identify with this way of knowing and being in the world. I rejoice that we are still here to celebrate love after so many years of war and bloodshed. Life goes on!

  6. How interesting–I just finished reading “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki” last night, and wrote a note to my nephew that it was about the presence of good and evil in the human spirit! We seem to be meditating on the same themes right now.

  7. Great verse.

    What jumped out at me were these lines, and I quote,

    “……Human tragedy
    Human comedy
    We create beauty and destruction.
    And please and appease the gods…..”

    The verse reminded me of a post I had written a while back on Creative Destruction, a concept by Joseph Schumpeter that has often resonated with me. Schumpeter saw human advance as a “perennial gale of creative destruction”. He likened it to the Darwinian natural selection to secure the “survival of the fittest”. What Schumpeter envisioned was the economy and society constantly regenerating from within by shedding old and failing businesses and social structures as it reallocates resources to newer, more productive ones.

    I give the link here, should you or any of your other readers be interested.



    • Thank you, Shakti, for your kind words and detailed comment. Your post was impressive. I don’t think I see things quite so black and white. At the time of “the grandeur” of Detroit and other factory towns, people still got polio and Jim Crow laws were still in effect. At the same time, the Great Migration brought southern African-American culture to northern American cities, changing foodways and music, among other things. The explosion of Internet resources has changed music and writing for better and worse, but it has also brought people together from all over the world.

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