Monday, April 26, 2010

poem of the day

After I linked to Catullus 16, Bill Colsher offered another classic poem that would offend puritanical folk: P. Colon. 7511 by Archilochus, whose poetry could kill:
Another reason for leaving his native place was personal disappointment and indignation at the treatment he had received from Lycambes, a citizen of Paros, who had promised him his daughter Neobule in marriage but had afterwards withdrawn his consent. Archilochus, taking advantage of the license allowed at the feasts of Demeter, poured out his wounded feelings in unmerciful satire. He accused Lycambes of perjury and recited such verses against his daughters that Lycambes and his daughters are said to have hanged themselves.
In a time when soldiers were expected to return with their shield or on it, Archilochus was refreshingly sane:
Some barbarian is waving my shield,
since I was obliged to
leave that perfectly good piece of equipment behind
under a bush.
But I got away, so what does it matter?
Life seemed somehow more precious.
Let the shield go; I can buy another one equally good.