The Goatsingers Retreat

Many years ago, whilst attempting to further my Post-Secondary Edumacation, I took an Ancient History class that dealt, in part with the Ancient (obviously) Greeks. During this course I was introduced to the idea of the Goat Singer or “tragos-oidos”, a term that would eventually become the English term “tragedy”.

The Goat-Singers were a wild rumpus party dance troupe during early Dionysian Bachannals. They would cavort and frolic to the rythms of the parade band while wearing Goat skins to represent Satyrs (Mythical Man/Goats who partied with Dionysus).

Eventually this became a little stale and an enterprising young Attican poet convinced the leader of the Goat Singers to perform a pre-written dialogue with the band leader, which he would do, gesticulating and hamming it up for the crowd. This was the birth of ‘acting’.

As we all know, the Greeks developed a great love for the theatrical arts that they had developed, and “tragos-oidos” became the term used for the serious (tragic) actors that would stand naked in the Palladium baring their souls for the gathered masses, reciting epic poetry and enacting tales of Gods and Men.

This inspired me to write the following poem, The Goat Singers Retreat, which has become not only one of my favorite poems, but one that I would consider a ‘signature’ work. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


The Goat Singers Retreat

The white halls of melancholy sorrow flow past him in both directions
The ache in his heart refuses to fade
Seen and forgotten
As an oddity or a dream

He has fought and lost
In a battle for Life exquisite
Existing without love
Seeing with anothers eyes
If he must choose between freedom and you
He will run to your side despite warning

He would remain celibate
If only he could stay forever covered in your glory
That would be the apex of a man
That would be his magnificence

Thus, now
As same as the Crow flies or the wind blows sweet
An unheard of change in the wind
It is his Harbinger

Every man must die with only himself for comfort
Every man must cry alone and shadowed
Every man but him
He within walls of glass
Seen and not beheld

The goat-singer falls for all to see
He steps from the stage
Carrying only the tears in his eyes
He leaves the book on a mountain of pain
And gives his life for all

4/16/95
AH

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