Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday classics

   Rehearsing The Eumenides
   in our cursing schoolboy
   and groans,
   the liberal education
   wrought a constant consternation
   in its clones.

   But who might occupy the stage,
   so ungendered as a page,
   was not for us to muse about and fuss,
   elated to be freighted
   and by learning consecrated
   with the wherewithal to cuss.

   Aeschylus was daunting
   and the mem'ry of him's haunting
   even now,
   Orestes, sometimes naughty,
   somewhat risibly was haughty
   when impersonated spotty at his brow.

   Clytemnestra, with her ruler,
   was just not our fav'rite schooler,
   may I say,
   An instinct rose to fool her
   Rather than confront and duel her,
   To show how we were smitten by the play.

Having put Thorny to bed,
Saturday evening, I gave
myself a few moments to
admire how the wonderful
American storyteller, 
foundation for a break-
fast served to brothers.
He recalled the furniture
as volatile overnight, be-
fore relapsing to its mark
at dawn. He admitted it. 

          The sea of tears
          That washes Troy
          Is bottomless.
          Let it wash Argos -
          Salt, cold water
          Purge the blood
          Of Agamemnon.
          Our cries are bottomless. Out of our eyes
          Our tears are bottomless.
          Pour them for Agamemnon.

          Bring his avenger -
          Bring the resolving blade
          To cut the heavy
          Rope of guilt
          That chokes this house,
          The strangling cramp
          Of the two bodies
          Knotted in their crime.
          Hack them apart.

William Maxwell
Early Novels and Stories
  Bright Center of Heaven
The Library of America, 2008©

  (The Libation Bearers)
Ted Hughes, translation
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999©

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