Friday, August 26, 2016

#Fridayreads: Parable of the Hostages by Louise Gluck

Parable of the Hostages

Related Poem Content Details

The Greeks are sitting on the beach 
wondering what to do when the war ends. No one 
wants to go home, back 
to that bony island; everyone wants a little more 
of what there is in Troy, more 
life on the edge, that sense of every day as being 
packed with surprises. But how to explain this 
to the ones at home to whom 
fighting a war is a plausible 
excuse for absence, whereas 
exploring one’s capacity for diversion 
is not. Well, this can be faced 
later; these 
are men of action, ready to leave 
insight to the women and children. 
Thinking things over in the hot sun, pleased 
by a new strength in their forearms, which seem 
more golden than they did at home, some 
begin to miss their families a little, 
to miss their wives, to want to see 
if the war has aged them. And a few grow 
slightly uneasy: what if war 
is just a male version of dressing up, 
a game devised to avoid 
profound spiritual questions? Ah, 
but it wasn’t only the war. The world had begun 
calling them, an opera beginning with the war’s 
loud chords and ending with the floating aria of the sirens. 
There on the beach, discussing the various 
timetables for getting home, no one believed 
it could take ten years to get back to Ithaca; 
no one foresaw that decade of insoluble dilemmas—oh unanswerable 
affliction of the human heart: how to divide 
the world’s beauty into acceptable 
and unacceptable loves! On the shores of Troy, 
how could the Greeks know 
they were hostages already: who once 
delays the journey is 
already enthralled; how could they know 
that of their small number 
some would be held forever by the dreams of pleasure, 
some by sleep, some by music?

No comments:

Post a Comment