Myth of Orpheus
by Marc Chagall
Our oldest friends—the great gods
who never tried to woo us—
shall we reject them because our tools of steel
do not need them? Or shall we seek them on a map?
Those powerful friends, who receive our dead,
play no part in our wheels and gears.
We have moved our banquets far from them,
and pass their messengers with such speed
we can't hear what they say. Lonelier now,
having no one but each other, not knowing each other,
we no longer meander on curving paths, but race straight ahead.
Only in the mills do the once sacred fires still burn,
lifting ever heavier hammers, while we
diminish in strength, like swimmers at sea.
Sonnets to Orpheus I, 24