Myth into music, music into dance, dance into film, film into poetry. A sequence of poems inspired by the creation of a butoh rock opera.


 In the hornbeam woods

Video stills by Peter Green

Orpheus dreams of the Underworld
as a forest of hornbeams,
an English Tartarus
draped in the cloth of a long winter,
a breathless, frost-held quiet;
in his mouth—an ecstatic green.

Video stills by Peter Green

From the dry corner of his eye
Eurydice, encrypted, multiplied
as in a broken mirror
walks barefoot through the coppice
the ancient ironwoods
the muscled thrones of trees.

Eurydice, in her petticoat
has, for simplicity,
forgotten the seasons,
her feet in leafmould like last snow
or flints in the turned earth,
her skin starry with cold.

She has been warned—they all have—
not to shiver or whimper
or cry for her mother.
She has on her lips the start
of an impossible question;
her breasts are ice flowers.

Her mother would have called
a petticoat insufficient
but she had slipped away
who knows where in the forest,
or where among the splintered stars—
without admonishment.

Orpheus dreams of his marriage bed
as a cradle of branches.
The trees cling to the clay,
to the stream-curved banks,
pinching the sky in their fingers
until a small rain falls.

A line of Eurydices follow
the winterbourne, ankle deep.
Orpheus smiles beneath his umbrella,
wraps a coat round his favourite,
composes a tune of new beginnings
and intimate, imaginary girls.