To Helen by Edgar Allan Poe
Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore,
That gently, o’er a perfumed sea,
The weary, wayworn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.
On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece
And the grandeur that was Rome.
Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand,
The agate lamp within thy hand!
Ah, Psyche, from the regions which
Are Holy Land!
What inspires us to create or destroy? Why is the line between creativity and destruction so narrow? Inspiration is a constant thing, but not a common thing. Poe writes to the woman of his inspiration, either mentor or infatuation; but most of his creations were dark and somewhat broody. Does an artist’s creation reflect the object of inspiration? Does it matter or is it enough that the artist was inspired? We each have unique voices; what happens if one person’s inspiration is another person’s trigger? How do we avoid mutual destruction? Can we avoid it? How does the artist connect to the audience when the audience is comprised of a myriad of beliefs and backgrounds?
These are just some questions that I’m thinking about. Helen came to me as a comparison to Iphigenia at Aulis, our 2014 spring show. One woman “caused” a war and one helped it, but neither is fully complicit in their own fate. Our beliefs and our viewpoints cut to the heart of our actions. We make choices with everything we do or don’t do. We make choices with what we say or don’t say. Whether deliberate or not, we cause inspiration or destruction at any given moment. To quote the knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade “you must choose, but choose wisely.”
I would love to hear your thoughts about these questions. Please feel free to comment below.