“But those unheard are sweeter” about melodies, and the General theme of unachieved pursuits having a greater appeal by John Keats in his ODE ON A GRECIAN URN had warped my head in pursuit of the unheard.
It is not as much the itch to hear the unheard, but to survive the hearing and recount that experience to my brethren is the tougher part.
In ODYSSEY, at Book xii, Homer narrates the consequences of hearing the unheard melodies of the Sirens thus:
Next, where the Sirens dwells, you plough the seas;
Their song is death, and
Unblest the man, whom music wins to stay
Nigh the cursed shore and listen to the lay.
No more that wretch shall view the joys of life
His blooming offspring, or his beauteous wife!
In verdant meads they sport; and wide around
Lie human bones that whiten all the ground:
The ground polluted
Homer’s “ground polluted” is the consequence of the death of the unprepared persons, listening to the melody of the Sirens and being led closer to enjoy the melody in proximity! Homer continues thus:
floats with human gore,
And human carnage taints the dreadful shore
Fly swift the dangerous coast: let every ear
Be stopp’d against the song! ’tis death to hear!
Firm to the mast with chains thyself be bound,
Nor trust thy virtue to the enchanting sound.
If, mad with transport, freedom thou demand,
Be every fetter strain’d, and added band to band.
The melody of the Sirens cannot be heard and dismissed with man’s sense of morality. The only option is FLEE!
But what sets apart Ulysses from the rest is that he wanted to hear the melody.
A life of toil, travails and turmoil would’ve been a compromised Life, if the melodies of the Sirens have not been heard. The survival method is to be learnt and implemented: TIE YOURSELF TO THE MAST AND GET NO RELIEF OF RELEASE FROM THE FETTERS FROM YOUR MATES!
Ulysses pours wax into the ears of all his mates on board. Mates cannot hear the “unheard melody”. They are seamen drawn to danger like moth to the flames. Their enterprise is a must for your journey, but DON’T, repeat DON’T EVER USE THEIR IDEAS. Seal them off from the melody of the sirens so that they neither get attracted to the melody, nor do they understand the reasons for your imploring them to loosen you and unfetter you from the mast!
The shore of the Sirens is past and a great Truth survives.
A man who had heard the UNHEARD MELODIES OF THE SIREN AND YET SURVIVED TO LIVE WITH THOSE MEMORIES.
What Ulysses lost was his ability to be appreciative of any melody which did not measure up to those of the Sirens he’d heard! A lifelong liability, to be worn as a Stoic with a knowing smile.
That’s the fate of hearing unheard melodies! We all hear those melodies day in and day out, either with wax in our ears or fetters to our feet.
Blessed are those with fetters than with wax‼