Medea in Corinth
May 2018. 38 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-66-4
£6.50 (+ 1.50 p&p), €6.50 (+ 1.50 p&p), US$9.50 (+ 2.50 p&p)
“What extremity would drive a woman to murder not only her rival, but her two innocent sons? The motivations behind Medea’s unspeakable actions have fascinated play-wrights and poets from Euripides to the present day. Ben Morgan follows them in-trepidly in this ambitious, searching exploration of vengeful jealousy, creating a powerful tragedy for the modern stage. His poems take us on a journey into his heroine’s psyche, uncovering her passionate bond with Hecate and her submission to the law of necessity. Whether or not it is performed, Medea in Corinth will puzzle, frighten and move its audience. Intense in its lyrical beauty, this sequence marks the emergence of a poet devoted to and highly skilled in his craft.”
“With this highly imaginative reinvention of the figures of Medea and Hecate, Ben Morgan joins the select company of contemporary poets who are keeping the pagan gods alive and following in the shimmering footsteps of Ovid, the greatest of all mythographers.”
“Ben Morgan’s Medea in Corinth transforms familiar classical Greek myth into something more mysterious, more magical. His precise lyricism conjures up Medea’s voice unerringly, never flinching as he takes us into the dark heart of jealousy and betrayal – a place where language becomes the ‘crushed shell of time, fit for wounding’. Drawing on a range of ancient literary traditions such as elegy and drama, even curse tablets, Morgan’s exquisite debut articulates the rage and wild logic of unthinkable revenge with maturity and compassion, allowing us to consider, if not always comprehend, the desperate actions of a mother driven to kill her own children, who ‘will blow their hearts out like candles’.”
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Table of Contents
Excerpts from Medea in Corinth
Father of my children, know that I hate you.
I will write it in your flesh, the hate that loves you.
I will mark its tangents and its arguments
Without neglecting its essentials.
I will steal your eyes, your jewels,
The first secrets of your heart,
The gold gush of your loins,
Your sweets, your children.
I will lay down my soul and my young womb.
The flowers of my life,
Grown in the garden of my body,
With their milky movements
And their sun-bright eyes:
I will blow their hearts out like candles.
I will end what I began.
I will treat them not as children
But as gods of a foreign race,
Patrons of our enemies, as idols that,
Staring down our armies
Across the smoking orchards,
Must triumph in our own blood
Or be burned.
To My Future Child
Do not know me. Do not call my name at night,
Do not write Mother on the letter you leave me
When you leave me. Do not seek me.
Do not stand in my doorway with a question,
As if I were at Delphi, and the visions given me
Were about love. This is my love, child:
This bloody rag, this wild shrub with no name,
This poisoned spike, this broken cup, this stain.
You, too, will have to learn the lesson:
How to make our blood’s disease into sweet wine,
Love’s toast, its overflow. I have tasted it –
Do not doubt me. Nectar of the sun.
But if you want wisdom, I have learned just this:
Love does not die, even when you kill it.
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