Scheherazade By Richard Siken

11 Jan



Initially Scheherazade appeared to be the most ridiculously confusing poem that I had ever read. However, after I listened to the complex background story from Richard Siken himself, I was intrigued and fell in love with the poem. In the story Scheherazade is the daughter of the executioner. An ambitious king employs the executioner by deciding to marry a woman everyday and the following morning he beheads her so that he can marry another woman by the afternoon. This king’s life is encompassed by selfishness and faulty physical love. One day Scheherazade went to her father and asked him to set her up with the king. The next day, she was married to the king. However, when the king took her back to his master bedroom to take advantage of her, she struck a deal. She said that if she told him an amazing story, he would have to let her live. The king then responded that he would let her live for that night. After hearing the story, the king loved it enough to allow her to live another day. To everyone’s surprise, the king would hold Scheherazade at the point of death for a story every night but at the same time he would also be begging her for a story. Days turned into weeks and the king and Scheherazade fell in love, living happily ever after.

Siken certainly had a lot to live up to with his fourteen-line poem. Although this fourteen-line masterpiece is not a sonnet, Siken did succeed in conveying a message of a timeless tale of love. Beginning with an apostrophe, Siken poses as the king who is asking his lover to tell him multiple different stories about when they pulled bodies out of the lake, horses ran until they forgot they were horses, and rolled up in the carpet so they could dance.  Each aspect of the different dreams referred to an aspect of the color red and are all tied together by the aspect of the sliced apple. In turn, the apple refers to Adam and Eve and represents knowledge, temptation, and sin. In the end, the story has a happy ending but because every day begins like it is the first day of marriage, every story and every moment is a matter of life or death.



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