Thursday, April 26, 2012

Travels Down Under

From time to time I pick up the Robert Fagles translation of Homer's The Odyssey.  It's a classic rendering--probably my favorite of the various translations I own.  And nearly every time I read Homer's words I write a series of poems.

For National Poetry Month I discovered yet another of my classical Greek verses.  Here's one about Odysseus and his descent into Hades (the realm of the dead, or what we might call today, Zombieland). 

Homer's themes are universal, however . . . and in this one I'm trying to relate the concerns that Odysseus had when he met his blind guide, Tiresias.  The prospects of not returning to one's home leads to a myriad of thoughts, and these are the ones shared the world over.  And this theme--of needing a guide and friend to lead us through the underworld--precedes the Christian by a good margin of centuries.  I find this conversation in Homer's poem particularly fascinating . . . and it always leads me home to words.

Odysseus Meets Tiresias in Hades

O kind Tiresias, return once more and prophesy
Of this final journey into death,
This earthly realm of Hades, voice of breath,
From which none may return to testify.

O kind Tiresias, speak comfort to my soul,
For I must cross the River Styx
With coin in hand, as death predicts,
And enter into shadow by this toll.

And you, Tiresias, kind friend and honest guide,
Do not begrudge this last request
Returning to my loves, as I've confessed:
But let my name be blessed and dignified.

No comments: