Tollund Press, of Essex County, Massachusetts, has issued its third signed-limited, collectible broadside, “Ghazal for the 50th Daniad” by A. E. Stallings, priced at a very reasonable $20. Cheap! I’ve got a framed copy on my wall, and it is a fine thing to see, a powerful poem and a truly beautiful production.
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STALLINGS, A.E. “Ghazal of the Fiftieth Danaid.” Limited-edition broadside signed by the poet, 80 numbered copies, 10 copies hors de commerce.
“Ghazal of the Fiftieth Danaid” is a variation on the medieval Arabic ghazal, a verse form traditionally on the subject of loss or separation, consisting of a series of thematically linked couplets.
As with the myths of Sisyphus and Ocnus, the myth of the Danaides centers on the notion of futility. According to the myth, Danaus was driven out of Egypt by his brother, the Egyptian king Aegyptus, and settled in Argos with his 50 daughters, the Danaides. Soon thereafter, Aegyptus forced Danaus to accept his daughters’ marriage to Aegyptus’ 50 sons. In what might today seem to be an overreaction, Danaus ordered his daughters to decapitate the bridegrooms in their sleep on their wedding night. With the exception of one, Hypermestra, they did so and buried their husbands’ heads in nearby Lerna. As punishment and to wash away their sins, the Danaids were condemned in Tartarus to the endless task of filling a bottomless vessel.
The broadside measures 12 × 18 inches and is printed on 118-lb., 100% cotton cover stock. The accompanying illustration is a redrawn and rearranged version of Die Danaiden, Relief einer Ara im Vatikan in Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher’s Ausführliches Lexikon der griechisches und römisches Mythologie, Vol. I., Leipzig, Germany: B.G. Teubner, 1884-1890.
Many thanks to Ernest Hilbert for introducing Tollund Press to Ms. Stallings and to Masoud Buisir for verifying the calligraphy (“ghazal” in Arabic).