The "Lotus" by R.E.M is one of my favourite songs by this band. While some people prefer the more popular "Everybody Hurts" (voted the most depressing song of all time), "Shiny Happy People" or "Losing my Religion", I have always felt that the "Lotus" spoke to me most.
In a recent pub conversation I have discovered, that not everyone actually understands the lotus reference in the song:
So happy to show us
I ate the lotus
Say haven't you noticed?
I ate the lotus
This is actually a reference to Homer's "Odyssey". When Odysseus and his crew reach the land of the Lotus-eaters they are fed the lotus by the inhabitants and those who taste it never want to go home:
"I was driven thence by foul winds for a space of 9 days upon the sea, but on the tenth day we reached the land of the Lotus-eaters, who live on a food that comes from a kind of flower. Here we landed to take in fresh water, and our crews got their mid-day meal on the shore near the ships. When they had eaten and drunk I sent two of my company to see what manner of men the people of the place might be, and they had a third man under them. They started at once, and went about among the Lotus-eaters, who did them no hurt, but gave them to eat of the lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened to them, but were for staying and munching lotus with the Lotus-eaters without thinking further of their return; nevertheless, though they wept bitterly I forced them back to the ships and made them fast under the benches. Then I told the rest to go on board at once, lest any of them should taste of the lotus and leave off wanting to get home, so they took their places and smote the grey sea with their oars."
Odyssey IX (translated by Samuel Butler)
I sometimes wonder if I haven't been fed the lotus sometime along my travels - I've left off wanting to get home.