Published on Academy of American Poets (

The Odyssey, Book XXIII, [The Trunk of the Olive Tree]

        An old trunk of olive
grew like a pillar on the building plot,
and I laid out our bedroom round that tree,
lined up the stone walls, built the walls and roof,
gave it a doorway and smooth-fitting doors.
Then I lopped off the silvery leaves and branches,
hewed and shaped that stump from the roots up
into a bedpost, drilled it, let it serve
as model for the rest. I planed them all,
inlaid them all with silver, gold and ivory,
and stretched a bed between--a pliant web 
of oxhide thongs dyed crimson.


An excerpt from "The Trunk of the Olive Tree" in The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Robert Fitzgerald. Translation copyright © 1961, renewed 1989 by Benedict R.C. Fitzgerald on behalf of the Fitzgerald children. This edition copyright © 1998 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. All rights reserved.




Little is known about the life of Homer, the author credited with composing The Iliad and The Odyssey who is arguably the greatest poet of the ancient world.

Date Published: 1961-01-01

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