Sunday, December 09, 2007

Catching up with Poetry Daily. I really enjoyed this one:

Patroclus Putting on the Armour of Achilles

How clumsy he is putting on the armour of another,
His friend's, perhaps remembering how they used to arm each other,
Fitting the metal tunics to one another's breast
And setting on each other's head the helmet's bristling crest.
Now for himself illicitly he foolishly performs
Secret ceremonial with that other's arms,
Borrowed, I say stolen, for they are not his own,
On the afternoon of battle, late, trembling, and alone.

Night terminal to fighting falls on the playing field
As to his arm he fastens the giant daedal shield.
A while the game continues, a little while the host
Lost on the obscure littoral, scattered and almost
Invisible, pursue the endless war with words
Jarring in the darkening air impassable to swords.

But when he steps forth from the tent where Achilles broods
Patroclus finds no foe at hand, surrounded by no gods.
Only the chill of evening strikes him to the bone
Like an arrow piercing where the armour fails to join,
And weakens his knees under the highly polished greaves.
Evening gentle elsewhere is loud on the shore, it grieves
It would seem for the deaths of heroes, their disobedient graves.

Daryl Hine

Recollected Poems, 1951-2004
Fitzhenry & Whiteside

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