Monday, March 31, 2014

Homeric Turns


What if they got it wrong, the tribe of singers,
And none of it was true: she never sailed
In the benched ships, she never went to Troy,
And there had been no bed befouled, no god-bound
Slaughterhouse of honor to be sung about?
What if the unsung were the only song,
The simile reversed, the rank and file
Massed for a sleep walk into corpse fires just
A figure now for storm clouds out at sea,
The storm itself a storm and nothing else,
Whipping great breakers onto breakers till
Even miles inland from his mountain top
The goatherd sees it turning day to midnight,
Summer to winter, sees it and shivers, driving
The flock before him to a cave where, safe
And dry now, he can watch the fabulous black
Sky crazed with lightning till the storm has passed.

– from Homeric Turns in Reel to Reel by Alan Shapiro (University of Chicago Press)

 painting (top)  Stormy Sea with Blazing Wreck by J.M.W. Turner (oil, c.1835)
– painting (bottom) Heavy Dark Clouds by J.M.W. Turner (gouache, c.1822)