To welcome Hector to his death God sent a rolling thunderclap across the sky The city and the sea And momentarily— The breezes playing with the sunlit dust— On either slope a silence fell. Think of a raked sky-wide Venetian blind. Add the receding traction of its slats Of its slats of its slats as a hand draws it up. Hear the Greek army getting to its feet. Then of a stadium when many boards are raised And many faces change to one vast face. So, where there were so many masks, Now one Greek mask glittered from strip to ridge. Already swift Boy Lutie took Prince Hector's nod And fired his whip that right and left Signalled to Ilium's wheels to fire their own, And to the Wall-wide nodding plumes of Trojan infantry— Flutes! Flutes! Screeching above the grave percussion of their feet Shouting how they will force the savage Greeks Back up the slope over the ridge, downplain And slaughter them beside their ships— Add the reverberation of their hooves: and "Reach for your oars. . ." T'lesspiax, his yard at 60°, sending it Across the radiant air as Ilium swept Onto the strip Into the Greeks Over the venue where Two hours ago all present prayed for peace. And carried Greece Back up the slope that leads Via its ridge Onto the windy plain.
Christopher Logue - 1926-2011
War Music [Down on your knees, Achilles]
An account of books 16-19 of the Iliad by Homer. Down on your knees, Achilles. Farther down. Now forward on your hands and put your face into the dirt, And scrub it to and fro. Grief has you by the hair with one And with the forceps of its other hand Uses your mouth to trowel the dogshit up; Watches you lift your arms to Heaven; and then Pounces and screws your nose into the filth. Gods have plucked drawstrings from your head, And from the templates of your upper lip Modelled their bows. Not now. Not since Your grieving reaches out and pistol-whips That envied face, until Frightened to bear your black, backbreaking agony alone, You sank, throat back, thrown back, your voice Thrown out across the sea to reach your Source.