Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Robert Lowell


Ulysses and Circe

Ten years before Troy, ten years before Circe⎯⎯
things changed to the names he gave them,
then lost their names:
Myrmidons, Spartans, soldier of dire Ulysses . . .
Why should I renew his infamous sorrow?
He had his part, he thought of building
the wooden horse as big as a house
and ended the ten years’ war.
“By force of fraud,” he says, “I did
what neither Diomedes, nor Achilles son of Thetis,
nor the Greeks with their thousand ships . . .
I destroyed Troy.”

What is more uxorious than waking at five
with the sun and three hours free?
He sees the familiar bluish-brown river
Dangle down her flat young forearm,
then crisscross. The sun rises,
a red bonfire,
weakly rattling in the lower branches⎯⎯
that eats like a locust and leaves the tree entire.
In ten minutes perhaps,
or whenever he next wakes up,
the sun is white as it mostly is,
dull changer of night to day,
itself unchanged, in war or peace.
The blinds give
bars of sunlight, bars of shade,
but the latter predominate
over the sincerity of her sybaritic bed.
She lies beside him,
a delicious, somnolent log. She says,
“Such wonderful things are being said to me⎯⎯
I’m such an old sleeper, I can’t respond …”

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