Catalogue


The throne of Labdacus /
Gjertrud Schnackenberg.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
New York, NY : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.
description
101 p.
ISBN
0374276862 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York, NY : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.
isbn
0374276862 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
4008037
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
First Chapter


Chapter One

THE GOD

TUNES THE

STRINGS

The first warning passing through Thebes--

As small a sound

As a housefly alighting from Persia

And stamping its foot on a mound

Where the palace once was;

As small as a moth chewing thread

In the tyrant's robe;

As small as the cresting of red

In the rim of an injured eye; as small

As the sound of a human conceived--

The god in Delphi,

Mouthing the words;

Then the god begins tuning the strings

With the squeak of the wooden pegs

Rotating in their holes,

As if he were setting the tragic text

To the music of houseflies.

A resinous skreak being dragged

Through too-small peg holes,

A sound that signifies

The god's unwillingness to speak;

Recalcitrance; unease the god can't quell

At the first oracle: Flee from birth . At which a string

Shudders inaudibly, a premonition

That even the god will be frightened, leaning above

The premiere of Oedipus ,

The god frightened

By the self-blinding--and a story,

The meaning of which nobody knows,

Or whose meaning is that nobody knows,

Though once upon a time

The god of poetry

Told the whole story of Oedipus

In one flashing sentence,

In the time it takes for the heart to beat once--

The prophecy he gave to Oedipus

While Oedipus gazed at the god

With uninjured eyes--

A story like a Sphinx-dictated riddle

Even the god can't solve,

A story sent to the god

By Faceless Necessity

Who had held a clay tablet up

To the bandaged eyes

Of a Bound Man

Playing his harp with his feet,

The most archaic tablet

Merely a copy of a still more archaic tablet,

The long-broken, unrecoverable original

First sent to him, the earliest tablet

With a story about a nameless foundling

Lost on the mountainside of his own life,

Written, not in Greek, but in the language

Of the gods,

(Continues...)

Copyright © 2000 Gjertrud Schnackenberg. All rights reserved.

Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2001-04-15:
Schnackenberg does not write the intimate little odes so dear to the hearts of many of today's current writing instructors. Grand and imposing, her poems storm through civilization, paying homage to art's greatest figures in language that is formal, articulate, and cool and glittering as a knife. Even when she touches on personal issues her neighbors, her father's death she works large. This year, she coupled a fine selected works with a new book-length poem that plunges back into Greek myth, ultimately investigating the tension between art and life. Decidedly different reading. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Library Journal, September 2000
San Francisco Chronicle, November 2000
Library Journal, April 2001
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Publisher Fact Sheet
A compelling, lyric telling of the story of Oedipus & of "what happens outside the play," through the experience of the god who is its presiding oracle: Apollo, the god of poetry, music, & healing. Given the task of setting the Sophocles text to music, the god is woven reluctantly into its world of riddles, unanswered questions, partially disclosed objects, & ambiguous secondhand reports--a world where the gods, as much as humans, are subject to the binding claims of fate & necessity.
Unpaid Annotation
A compelling, lyric telling of the story of Oedipus and of "what happens outside the play," through the experience of the god who is its presiding oracle: Apollo, the god of poetry, music, and healing. Given the task of setting the Sophocles text to music, the god is woven reluctantly into its world of riddles, unanswered questions, partially disclosed objects, and ambiguous secondhand reports-a world where the gods, as much as humans, are subject to the binding claims of fate and necessity.
Unpaid Annotation
The Throne of Labdacus is Gjertrud Schnackenberg's lyric telling of Oedipus' story, and of "what happens outside the play", through the experience of the god who is its presiding oracle: Apollo. The god of poetry, music, and healing is given the task of setting the Sophocles text to music and is woven reluctantly into its world of riddles, unanswered questions, partially disclosed oracles, and hearsay -- a world where the gods, as much as humans, are bound by fate and necessity.

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