Thursday, August 13, 2015


They Lie

George Campbell Hay (1915-1984), "Homer," Collected Poems and Songs of George Campbell Hay (Deòrsa Mac Iain Dheòrsa), ed. Michel Byrne (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000), vol. I, p. 426:
They say that you were blind. Yet, from the shore
    you saw the long waves cresting out at sea;
before the climbing dawn, from heaven's floor
    you saw the dark night flee.

You saw the swordmen; Helen without flaw.
    You saw the spearmen by the Skaean Gate.
Hector, Achilles, Priam – those you saw –
    Odysseus homeward late.

Demodocus still sings within the hall,
    Telemachus still sails and seeking goes,
and Deienera tells of Ilium's fall,
    and Ajax faces foes.

The torrents whirling in the springtime thaw,
    the shady slopes of Ida many-pined,
the curving flash of falling swords you saw.
    They lie. You were not blind.
As the editor points out (vol. II, p. 225), Heracles' wife Deienera (or Deianeira) doesn't appear in Homer.

Update—Joel Eidsath notes that Homer mentions the sisters of Meleager (Iliad 9.584), of whom Deianeira was one, although he doesn't name her.

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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