From Homer: War Music

Christopher Logue

copyright ©2001

Ever since men began in time, time and
Time again they met in parliaments,
Where, in due turn, letting the next man speak,
With mouthfuls of soft air they tried to stop
Themselves from ravening their talking throats;
Hoping enunciated airs would fall
With verisimiltitude in different minds,
And bring some concord to those minds; only soft air
Between the hatred human animals
Monotonously bear towards themselves.
No work was more regarded in our times,
And nothing failed so often. Knowing this,
The army came to hear Achilles say;
‘Pax., Agamemnon.’ And Agamemnon’s: ‘Pax.’

Notes on the Poem

Our Poem of the Week is from the 2002 Griffin-shortlisted collection by Christopher Logue, Homer: War Music. Of the collection the judges said, “Christopher Logue is one of those all too rare poets whose ability to tell the story transforms each word of it to a freshness and a presence one had feared was lost. What could be more intimidating than Homer’s great epic, the Iliad? Yet Logue’s War Music (which collects the first three volumes of his brilliant adaptation) ‘makes it new’ with all the vigor and invention the old recountings could no longer carry. If ‘translation’ is literally a ‘carrying over,’ then War Music is a vivid and reaffirming instance of its power. First and last, Logue is a poet whose own authority here is as timeless as his master’s.” To celebrate the acquisition of his archive and the release of War Music as an audiobook, The British Library organized Arrival of the Poet in the Library: A Celebration of Christopher Logue, with Tariq Ali, John Hegley, Rosemary Hill, Christopher Reid, Harriet Walter and Astrid Williamson, hosted by Andrew O’Hagan.

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