Saturday, April 9, 2011

A dulcimer for daylight

Because the mast's peak hit the sand no more than six
Feet from Patroclus' car, the horses shied,
Spoiling his cast. Nothing was lost.

As Akafact fell back, back arched,
God blew the javelin straight, and thus

Mid-air, the cold bronze apex sank
Between his teeth and tongue, parted his brain,
Pressed on, and stapled him against the upturned hull.
His dead jaw gaped. His soul
Crawled off his tongue and vanished into sunlight.

I agree. The habit of the United States is in questionable taste. Sadly, the cultivated life in a republic is different from one in a kingdom. In a kingdom, things happen. In a republic, people cause things. I did this before I woke up this morning, and I will keep doing it as I select my evening houseguest, take him shopping, share his amusing scent, and relax with him, or someone else, over supper tomorrow by the fire. Whatever I wear, wherever I dine, however I speak, my habit is the lancing of throats. I haven't skipped a day. 

An adult in a republic who doesn't know he's doing this is uneducated; one who says he isn't, is even more pitiable. I don't know if I'll staple this man today, but it won't be for lack of trying. Maybe you got him? I should be envious, but surely, there are more.

One is conscious of the breach of form in the exercise of the second person in public writing. We will be accountable for our imagery, we will be accountable for our text. We bear responsibility for what crawls off the tongue of republican form, and vanishes into sunlight. There is no aristocracy to get us off the javelin, and mentor the tongue of men.

Who would pretend to aristocracy, must first contend with this. This saucer's not collectible. Its substance is too perishable. Yet there's no shield known to bar the scruple of this thing. The cultivated life is inalienable, or it is extinguished. 

Johann Christian Bach
Clavier concerto in B flat major
Ingrid Haebler, fortepiano
Eduard Melkus
Vienna Capella Academica
Philips, 1966©

Christopher Logue
  War Music
  An Account of Books 1-4 and
  16-19 of Homer's 'Iliad'
The Noonday Press
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997©


  1. Hello:
    We shall treasure so much of the truth of what you write here - "my habit is the lancing of throats" - such a powerful image. The countless millions of decisions which we make each day shape not only our own lives, but also the ways of the world.
    But, for the present time at least, we are 'free' to decide.
    Vive la republique!

  2. I don't know whether this reached you in Brighton or Budapest, or caffeinating in between, but I'm grateful to be forgiven the interruption.

  3. Cher Laurent,

    Achilles: “Patroclus, why are you in tears, like a little girl running along beside her mother and begging to be carried, tugging at her skirt to make her stop, although she is in a hurry, and looking tearfully up at her till at last she picks her up? That, Patroclus, is how you look, with the soft tears rolling down your cheeks.” Homer, The Iliad

    How does one quench a lanced throat?

    Why is "Crawled" capitalized?

  4. Logue's decision, but I agree with it. It follows his preference at line breaks, but the word's embodiment of several facets of the migration is only better appreciated by the placement he gives it. Any thoughts?

  5. Thank you for soliciting my thoughts. Unfortunately they are no more than the product of the night star compared to your day star.

    Perhaps "Crawled" is a capitalized verb expressing a noun. In this instance a noun representing a proper name, and thus capitalized. A bi-gendered verb-noun crawling into being.

    Cher moi, you did not answer my question about the lanced throat.

    Forgive if I unduly impose. My love for your thoughts force me to the edge of etiquette transgressed.

  6. The metamorphosis you propose, David, is always interesting to contemplate, and I had not done so. In the present case, although the syntax would be disrupted, it's certainly not altogether an illegitimate idea, but then we'd have the tautology of "soul" to explain. I'm sorry about a recent question I might have missed; please address me directly (see profile) and I'll try to reply.