An Elder Resigns from the Chorus of Oedipus at Colonnus

Not ever to be born

surely was the better choice!


By cruel fate we’re torn.

We lack a voice

in our dreadful ends;

we forever know

and forever show

the gods aren’t friends

to any living thing…!


Yet, though washed by sea,

we also can’t be free

of the constant sting,

the deepest, hopeful stain,

of mortality!


So, then,

what, a mortal, can

I hope to gain

through more striving?


You sing on. I leave

your number; not to grieve,

nor as one surviving;


But just to leave—alone,

beaten—far from youth—

shriven of all but truth;

with one foot upon each stone.



(Editors’ Note: “An Elder Resigns from the Chorus of Oedipus at Colonnus is paired with the preceding poem, “Mourning Becomes Jocasta,by Jane Yolen. Both these poems are read by Erika Ensign on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast, Episode 37A.)


Peter Tacy

Peter Tacy and Jane Yolen dated and were award-winning student poets when they were in college during the late 1950’s. Then happy marriages to others, and different career paths, separated them until, after both had been widowed, they reunited during a visit to Emily Dickinson’s house in early 2019. During their years apart, Peter was an English literature teacher, school Headmaster, and Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools. During that time he wrote and published two books and scores of essays and articles, all about education; such poems as he was inclined to write were never intended for publication and rarely preserved. That situation has changed since his re-connection with Jane.

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