Sunday, May 10, 2009

A beacon from Troy

In the mountains the shortest way is from peak to peak, Nietzsche writes but for that route thou must have long legs.

And I think of Klytaimestra and her beacons: tongues of fire singing, from peak to peak, the fall of Troy.

Landscape as poetry. Death's trochees written across the sky.

Something is left unreconciled in this relay of tragedy to tragedy. Not a meeting of eyes, but the demand of one eye for another.


An exercise in bad form: To end an epic battle with a haiku of blood.

Three quick stabs is all it took. The red carpet a bloodline, bringing Agamemnon to his award.

O Apollo! Apollo!

Not a poetic fate, but fate as poetry.


The shortest distance between two silences is a unspoken line.


The old men wouldn't believe it at first. They wanted more, not fire and smoke but words, clear as a mirror,

reflecting a hope newly shaven,

reflecting heads newly shaved.


Poetry and prose. Smoke and mirrors.

They say it's seven years bad luck to kill a messenger. But Klytaimestra had been waiting for ten.

Besides, there were two messengers. The other came from the future, a future to which she would not return.

What she had in common with fire was language, its knowledge laughing and untouched.

Smoke and mirrors. Prophecy and news.


In the end, it didn't matter that fire was the truer herald. By the time they understood her, it had all turned to ash.

N.B. The italicised phrase in the middle comes from Anne Carson's magnificent new translation of Aiskhylos' Agamemnon, which this post is largely inspired by.

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