52 SONGS

...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Christopher Logue

from War Music, Odysseus to Achilles:
    They do not own the swords with which they fight,
Nor the ships that brought them here.
Orders are handed down to them in words
They barely understand.
They do not give a whit who owns queen Helen.
Ithaca’s mine; Pythia yours; but what are they defending?
They love you? Yes. They do. They also loved Patroclus.
And he is dead, they say. Bury the dead, they say.
A hundred of us singing angels died for every knock
Patroclus took — so why the fuss? — that’s war, they say,
Who came to eat in Troy and not to prove how much
Dear friends are missed.
Yes, they are fools.
But they are right. Fools often are.
    Bury the dead, my lord,
And I will help you pitch Troy in the sea.
[excerpted in a review by Michael Robbins in Poetry]

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