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.
From War Music by Christopher Logue, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Copyright © 1988 Christopher Logue. Used with permission.