some_stars: (fitzaphor)
fifty frenchmen can't be wrong ([personal profile] some_stars) wrote2014-04-19 02:56 am

(no subject)

i did not intend to stay up until almost 3 am tonight writing a poem, but life is full of surprises. this is basically a loose rewrite of the first choral ode (but the second choral poem-type thing? IDEK anymore) from Antigone, around line 340 or so in the Greek--"Many marvels walk through the world, / Terrible, wonderful, / But none more than humanity". Mostly based on my Braun translation, though I looked at a couple others. Not remotely based on the Greek, which I am no longer able to read, alas.

What Men Can Do

Beat the dirt with sticks,
keep at it. Beat the sea
with boats, slide over it,
walk anywhere they please, in fact,
and if the water has something to say
about that, well, let it roll and kick;
the men don't hear. Men scrape old dirt
right down to the rocks. They never give it back.

Men can crown themselves kings
of fish and birds. Make nets. Put nets out
in the water. Pull nets back in.
Shoot birds, if a dog helps.
Kings of sheep and cattle when nothing human's left to yoke,
every man is a king, and a cow will do to conquer.
Men drive monsters from their homes.
Then they can be king of the monsters.

What men can do is talk,
from talk comes words, and then they think.
Think how much finer is a city than a hill
because in a city you've got to have a palace,
cobblestone streets, a post to tie horses. A roof.
When it rains a roof. A roof needs a door. A door needs
women. Men think of everything.

Men can be good men. Or bad men. It's not important
in the end, who God chooses. Who fails. Who pleases.
Men beat the earth, they beat their oxen,
beat their wives, beat drums. And God beats men.

All of this is outside, in the streets. Cats watching
from the alleyways. Goats bleating. Little hooves on cobblestones.
Open to the sky. Men watch each other, see.

But the house has a door and the door is shut.