In 1910, germinal Author, Playwright and Poet, John Millington Synge — published “Deirdre of the Sorrows” — his last, and most underrated, work.
Synge died before he could finish the play, so his friend, and mentor, William Butler Yeats, helped complete the play with the assistance of Synge’s betrothed, Molly Allgood.
Deirdre of the Sorrows is steeped in Irish mythology and the story of Deirdre and Conchobar — and in this Boles Blogs redaction, I have taken the three-act play and reduced the entire plot into seven sentences in which the word “stars” appears eight times in the play — in order to show how a master Playwright can use a single word to lash together the entire structure of a play with a single meme; and notice how “stars” is used as a common touchstone only by Deirdre and Naisi throughout the entire play, except at the end, when Lavarcham alone invokes their sacred word to resurrect, and codify, the Deirdre and Naisi covenant.
DEIRDRE: Since that, Naisi, I have been one time the like of a ewe looking for a lamb that had been taken away from her, and one time seeing new gold on the stars, and a new face on the moon, and all times dreading Emain.
NAISI: The stars are out, Deirdre, and let you come with me quickly, for it is the stars will be our lamps many nights and we abroad in Alban, and taking our journeys among the little islands in the sea.
If a near death is coming what will be my trouble losing the earth and the stars over it, and you, Deirdre, are their flame and bright crown?
DEIRDRE: There are as many ways to wither love as there are stars in a night of Samhain; but there is no way to keep life, or love with it, a short space only… it’s for that there’s nothing lonesome like a love is watching out the time most lovers do be sleeping… it’s for that we’re setting out for Emain Macha when the tide turns on the sand.
It’s you three will not see age or death coming — you that were my company when the fires on the hill-tops were put out and the stars were our friends only.
It is not I will quit your head, Naisi, when it’s many a night we saw the stars among the clear trees of Glen da Ruadh, or the moon pausing to rest her on the edges of the hills.
LAVARCHAM: Deirdre is dead, and Naisi is dead; and if the oaks and stars could die for sorrow, it’s a dark sky and a hard and naked earth we’d have this night in Emain.
What a beautiful play and a great redaction, David — thanks for bringing it to us!
Thanks, Gordon! It was definitely a beautiful challenge to honor.