PQfEW: The Sphinx’s Riddle

One morning recently, I opened a book on mother-daughter relationships in fiction and was struck by this epigraph. As far as I can tell this is the poem (or “prosem,” as I sometimes call such things) in its entirety. I’m very interesting in looking up more of this woman’s work.

“Myth” by Muriel Rukeyser

Long afterward, Oedipus, old and
blinded, walked the roads. He smelled a
familiar smell. It was the Sphinx. Oedipus
said, “I want to ask you one question.
Why didn’t I recognize my mother?” “You
gave the wrong answer,” said the Sphinx.
“But that was what made everything
possible,” said Oedipus. “No,” she said.
“When I asked, What walks on four legs
in the morning, two at noon and three in
the evening, you answered, Man. You
didn’t say anything about woman.”
“When you say Man,” said Oedipus, “you
include women too. Everyone knows
that.” She said, “That’s what you think.”

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “PQfEW: The Sphinx’s Riddle

  1. Pingback: Feel Good Friday the *Snerk* Edition « Tiny Cat Pants

  2. Dianne Stevens

    I always thought this was one of those poems that should be cut out, handwritten, or printed and then framed. It should probably be hung in the bathroom, over the tank.
    Despite her popularity as a thesis subject, I don’t think Muriel Rukeyser gets the attention she deserves; she’s easy to read and her phrases stick around in the mind for days.

  3. kyoske

    I love this!
    It makes perfect sense.
    I actually solved a riddle i had mulled over for years.

    Why is a Raven like a writing desk?
    My answer: Because Poe wrote on both.