Sunday, January 16, 2005



In Homer's Iliad, the Trojan Hector kills Achilles' friend Patroclus (book 16). Achilles in revenge slays Hector (book 22) and drags his corpse behind a chariot around the walls of Troy (book 24). In Ballad of Hector in Hades by Edwin Muir (1887-1959), the ghost of Hector remembers his last minutes of life:
Yes, this is where I stood that day,
  Beside this sunny mound.
The walls of Troy are far away,
  And outward comes no sound.

I wait. On all the empty plain
  A burnished stillness lies,
Save for the chariot's tinkling hum,
  And a few distant cries.

His helmet glitters near. The world
  Slowly turns around,
With some new sleight compels my feet
  From the fighting ground.

I run. If I turn back again
  The earth must turn with me,
The mountains planted on the plain,
  The sky clamped to the sea.

The grasses puff a little dust
  Where my footsteps fall.
I cast a shadow as I pass
  The little wayside wall.

The strip of grass on either hand
  Sparkles in the light;
I only see that little space
  To the left and to the right,

And in that space our shadows run,
  His shadow there and mine,
The little flowers, the tiny mounds,
  The grasses frail and fine.

But narrower still and narrower!
  My course is shrunk and small,
Yet vast as in a deadly dream,
  And faint the Trojan wall.
The sun up in the towering sky
  Turns like a spinning ball.

The sky with all its clustered eyes
  Grows still with watching me,
The flowers, the mounds, the flaunting weeds
  Wheel slowly round to see.

Two shadows racing on the grass,
  Silent and so near,
Until his shadow falls on mine.
  And I am rid of fear.

The race is ended. Far away
  I hang and do not care,
While round bright Troy Achilles whirls
  A corpse with streaming hair.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?