Friday, July 15, 2011

workout in red


Big mouth.
Remember it took three of you to kill me.
A god, a boy, and, last and least, a hero.
I can hear Death pronounce my name, and yet
somehow it sounds like 'Hector'.
And as I close my eyes I see Achilles' face
With Death's voice coming out of it.

Saying these things Patroclus died.
And as his soul went through the sand
Hector withdrew his spear and said:

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


  1. Achilles will trick you in more ways than one!

  2. Quite right. It's amazing how many of his victories relied on seduction, or at least involved it at a crucial interval. But possibly his greatest trick was the long-protracted 'sulk', a ruse to boost rating for the war and keep the media, who had pitched their tent not far from his because of it, focused on what seemed to be a suspenseful risk. In fact it enabled an aura of weakness to mask his virtual invincibility, tempting the home team to make mistakes, which they did in abundance. Can you imagine how brief, on the one hand, or boringly redundant on the other, this poem would have been, any other way? Surely, David, we have seen this solicitation of sympathetic curiosity somewhere, since?

    Meanwhile, I pose you a jungian sport - which of these figures is Patroclus, which Thackta, the boy who javelined his legs together? I'll give you a hint. Look for the remorse. :)