This place matters

This place matters

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Siren song

In ancient Greek, the word from which our word "siren" is descended initially referred to an eel or a salamander-like critter, which may have been derived from an earlier word for "rope."
The Sirens of myth, then, were originally eel-like characters who sang enchantingly, luring men from their ships. Over time myths evolved, as myths do, and the sirens were no longer eels, but bird-like things - I always pictured them as something like voluptuous flamingos. Only evil.
Some years in the future, a dude named Jack Robinson invented a musical instrument that used a pneumatic tube to make its hauntingly beautiful sound, a sound that he reckoned was as sweet as the siren's song. The technology he used to make that instrument was used to create warning sirens and the like, and that is how an eel became a wail.

At least that's what I remember from the five page paper I had to write on the subject in college. I can only assume I used a really big font.

I took the pic at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. I have no idea where he was keeping the back half of his body or how he planned to get out.


And now...

Siren Song

by Margaret Atwood

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who had heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.
Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?
I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical
with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

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