Shadows

Maria Callas as Medea in Cherubini’s opera.

from Maya Deren’s ‘Meshes of the afternoon’|1,2|

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Medea

‘Medea:
I pray never to have a happy life that is painful to me
nor wealth that eats away at my heart’
‘Messenger:
The royal princess is dead just now
a victim of your poisons and her father, Creon, is dead too.
Medea:
That’s wonderful news. You will have my eternal gratitude and I will call you my friend.’
‘Messenger:
And the poor woman, her eyes glazed over, stirred from her silence
and with a deep groan was trying to get up.
But a twofold trouble was warring against her:
the crown of gold around her head
was spewing out an eerie stream of ravenous fire,
and the fine robes, gifts from your children,
were eating away the poor girl’s beautiful flesh.
She stands up and tries to escape, but she is on fire.
She shakes her head this way and that,
trying to throw off the crown, but all the more tightly
the gold holds its bonds; and the fire — when she shook
her head — burned twice as bright.
Overcome by the disaster she falls to the floor,
unrecognizable to the sight of anyone but a parent.
The condition of her eyes and her once lovely face
were murky, and blood dripped
from the top of her head with fire mixed in,
and the flesh was dripping from her bones like sap
from a pine, through the hidden gnawing of the poisons,
a terrible sight.’

from ‘Medea’ by Euripides