The Sirens’ Song
I thought that I had heard it all before. With strong conviction I believed that I had perceived every song known to this earth, from the honeyed-smooth melodies that pour from Demodocus’ lyre to the euphorically flitting cries of Ithaca’s morning dove. Although Circe had told me of the engulfing dangers of the Sirens’ song, I gave no heed to her warning, for I believed that since I had already heard every song and gone unscathed, there was nothing that the Sirens could sing that could possibly stun or swallow me. Because of this conviction, I approached the isle of the Sirens with a veil of haughtiness cast over my head. I assumed that I would soon hear a familiar tune, listen happily, and, once past the isle, let the tune leave my mind, unmoved. Deceitful as I was then, I saw no harm in impressing my crew by pretending to struggle and survive what they all thought was the most irresistible song. As we approached the isle, I had my men lash my brawny torso to the mast of the ship and, acting solemnly to augment my ruse, commanded them all to fill their ears with beeswax. Nearing the isle, I wondered to myself what beautiful song the Sirens might sing. I imagined the song of the midnight wolves that wallow deep within the woods, of the song that the first fallen snow sings upon landing sussurous on the frigid cypress trees. I thought of the song that Penelope used to sing when dancing delicately with the warp and weft of her pious loom, and even of my own great song, the song of Odysseus who ventured long and far in order to return to the island that he called home. I laughed arrogantly to myself at what I thought was such an unformidable obstruction. So delusional I was, thinking that I had heard everything that there was to hear on this earth. How wrong I was soon to be.
Just as the sun was climbing down from its perch for sleep, the crew and I arched over the fleeting, wine red horizon and brought the isle of the Sirens into view. As we neared the isle, the sunset sea began to dance wildly, throwing cacophonic waves up upon the mast that I was lashed to. The sound of oars hacking the ocean resonated harshly through my ears as the crew, deaf to the dissonance around them, paddled constantly towards the Sirens. Finally reaching their realm, I was just able to hear their murmuring and make out their faces. Standing on the shore as though they were expecting us, they seemed to be whispering amongst themselves, but their words were incoherent. Their lifeless stillness sent tremors down my wet back. Disconcertedly, they all had a shadowless grey tone to them, as though they were all cut from the same ancient stone. As I recall, all that interrupted the matte grey of their figures were their eyes, sallow gold and burning with knowledge. Once the Sirens noticed me and began to prepare their song, I smirked at them, still blind to the dangerous possibilities of what was to come. I watched keenly as they each opened their mouth to sing, expecting to hear some sweet melody or soft chord pour forth shortly thereafter. But instead of the harmonious music that I so deceitfully anticipated, something else flowed forth. Silence. It gushed from their mouths, an absolute absence of sound. It coated the earth in torrential speechlessness just like sheets of rain. Their soundless song silenced the wind and the ocean, the rustle and the forest, and even silenced the incessant blood surging though my head. While the Sirens sang their song, the earth was rid of the shackles of sound and coated with a rich euphony. No longer did I have to bear the jarring waves that crashed against my ship, nor painfully swallow the harsh hacks of my men’s rowing oars. This was like no song I had ever heard, and naturally I was entranced by it. It was inconceivably elating. But alas, just as the song began to sink into my static bones and give me a taste of true existential clarity, the Sirens closed their mouths into smooth smirks and ceased the silence. Surrounded once again by endless cacophonies, tears streamed down my face. I yearned to hear more, begging my men to turn back and let me listen to just one more sweet verse of silence, but they stood fast, paddling constantly away from the isle, hacking the ocean dissonantly with their harsh oars.
Sometimes late at night, long after Penlope has drifted off into a world of sleep and dreams beside me, I start to think that I might just hear it again. As the late night shadows creep towards my rooted bed and I am just beginning to drift into sleep, I desperately hope that I will hear it once again. Once Ithaca is deep asleep in its warm chambers and I have fallen into a tired delusional haze, I begin to believe that if I lay still enough and stay silent myself, I may catch even one verse of the Sirens’ soundless song.
Alexander Charnov, Age 16, Grade 11, Saint Ann’s School, Gold Key