Wednesday, 9 January 2013

"Achilles Slew Hector"

Achilles slew Hector,
Exultant on the blood-dark plain.
He held the lifeless form in his hand,
Baring his teeth to the sky.
Afterwards he ate.
      Men fight. They gather the harvest.

The sun burned bronze in a molten sky.
Men stooped as if to listen to the whispers of corn;
But the scorch of their hands
And ache of their backs were no joke:
The King’s champion rode slowly by.
      Men fight. They gather the harvest.

The women bewailed their shattered men,
Bathing wounds with cries by the water’s edge.
Blood mixed with dust and spirit with air.
The long wait began, and for the wounded
The helpless offer of food and drink.
      Men fight. They gather the harvest.

In a determined, roaring line
The combine harvesters process the land.
The work is unceasing, although
At a sudden report and a noise overhead
Eyes turn to the horizon, training like guns.
      Men fight. They gather the harvest.

Lord of benediction, of the calm face of waters,
What is to be said of the interminable
Passions of men? When I think on it now,
Of the gigantic fury of Achilles, I am thrilled:
Come. Offer me the offering of the bread and the wine.
      Men fight. They gather the harvest.

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© October 1979

 

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