Poem — Kerry Popplewell

The Iliad, Book xii

 

So in the years to come Poseidon and god Apollo
Would set all things to rights once more
(The Iliad, xiii. Robert Eagles’ translation)

Homer knew war: knew the killing –
brains spilling out, spurting blood,
crushed bone and flesh wrenched apart;
and the racket, horses screaming
above thudding weapons and smoke,
walls that crashed flat into mud.

He knew something else: for he cuts
to a future when all’s gone still –
men, ramparts and war ships forgotten –
no movement but the rivers’ motion
no sound but the sea’s slow invasion
of empty, indifferent sand.

 

Kerry Popplewell

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