George Dorner, Illinois

Echo and Narcissus Revisited

February 4, 2009
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Categories: General, Publications and Resources

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I recently gave my first daffodil talk of the season.  Seeking to punch up the old material, I once again Googled ‘narcissus’ and came up with a poem, new to me, on the myth of Narcissus and Echo. I have “borrowed” some such material for my introduction since I have sometimes use as a subtitle for my talk to garden clubs, “Notes for Narcissistic Gardeners”. There are a number of webpages recounting this myth, some not for family consumption, and there are a number of poems and cartoon based on the myth. I found at least 4 pretty good, lengthy poems.

Here’s onel you must see. It is from the website cited below, and this should start (or end?) your day with a smile, even if you’ve seen it before.
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       Echo and Narcissus
                    or
     I Only Have Eyes for Me
Quite often in a fairy tale
A maiden meets a macho male
and soon becomes his missus.
But myths are apt to culminate
In sorrows like the tragic fate
of Echo and Narcissus.
Now Echo was a nymph, they say,
As sweet and mild as creme brulée
and also nearly mute.
She’d parrot back the final word
(Or two or three) of all she heard,
which in its way was cute.
Narcissus was a comely youth,
A pretty boy to tell the truth,
well-built but not too burly.
Surprisingly, this handsome hunk
Was chaste enough to be a monk,
though centuries too early.
One day the youth was hunting deer
When Echo glimpsed him from the rear
and felt the flame of passion.
She thought the words she couldn’t say:
“I’d pluck his bowstring any day!”
or something in that fashion.
She threw herself into his arms,
Bedazzled by his boyish charms
and badly overheated.
“What makes you think I want you?” said
Narcissus, quickly turning red.
“I want you,” she repeated.
Narcissus sneered in sheer disgust
At Echo’s raw, unbridled lust.
“Control yourself!” he sputtered.
“My striking looks, which should delight me,
Just keep coming back to bite me!”
“Bite me!” Echo muttered.
With that she slunk away to hide.
She felt as if she could have died,
which would have been her choice.
Her body shriveled as she pined,
Then disappeared and left behind
her disembodied voice.
Now many girls had been through hell
(And truth to tell, some men as well)
for love of proud Narcissus.
They called upon the gods above,
“May he soon feel the sting of love,
so cruelly does he diss us!”
The gods of vengeance heard their prayer.
Narcissus passed a pond, and there
he saw himself reflected.
“By Zeus!” he said, “I never thought
A bod could be so firm, so taut,
but now I stand corrected!”
He couldn’t pry his eyes away,
And so he lingered all that day
beside the placid pool.
“Don’t torture me, don’t turn aside,
Just kiss me, fool!” he fondly cried.
And Echo whispered, “Fool!”
Attempting then a close embrace,
He tried to kiss that godlike face,
which only brought him woe.
Instead of touching tender lips,
He ended up imbibing sips
of tepid H2O.
He languished in his lovesick mood
And wouldn’t eat a speck of food
or even take a shower.
At last, it’s rather strange to say,
He morphed, and to this very day
Narcissus is a flower.
Before the change, he beat his breast
And wailed, “I’m ruined like the rest
by passion for Yours Truly.
I’ve come to see my pride was wrong.
I can’t believe it took so long!”
“So long!” said Echo coolly.
          … Scott Eamons
***
Comment by a friend of the author, Allen Cook, who also has a nice poem on the subject:
PRODUCTION LOG
Myth-Demeanors
Mar 5, 2007 — filed under: sundries
Last year I made some pictures for a book my friend Scott Emmons wrote. It’s a collection of Greek myths in verse form, called Myth-Demeanors. So far, it’s unpublished, but we’re hoping that’s only temporary. Scott’s about the best writer of light verse we’ve got. He’s also, as it happens, an expert on Greek mythology and culture. So you’ll want to read these excerpts. If you like (this one), you can find more at Scott’s site, http://WordChowder.com, along with a bunch of his other excellent writing.
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George Dorner
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Palindrome for Today
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