The Poets

June 28, 2010

The War-God's Deadly Dance

War - I know it well, and the butchery of men
Well I know, shift to the left, shift to the right
My tough tanned shield. That's what the real drill
Defensive fighting means to me. I know it all
How to charge in the rush of plunging horses-
I know how to stand and fight to the finish
Twist and
lunge in the War-god's deadly dance.

From the Iliad- Book 7, lines 275-281

I first read these lines in the early 90s. I remember how impressed I was with Homer's use of language, how beautifully strung together words could be, and how I wondered to myself whether I could achieve that kind of depth of expression in my own (prose) writings.

My desire to know and feel and write poetry emerged from a like consideration- this was when, shortly before May of 2008, I read a short passage* from Milton's Paradise Lost ... I found it so incredible a description of Eden's worth that I almost couldn't read prose anymore (indeed, my philosophical studies diminished terribly since that formal acquaintance with Milton and poetry).

From that time on I began to submerge myself in the world of poetry- anything and everything I could learn about or get my hands on! I wanted to know the poets and their poetry; I wanted to know their history; I wanted to learn poetic forms, meters, poetic devises, and every medium utilized by poets to achieve their works ... and so I pursued these, and have since been just as passionate to know everything I can about poetry and those that have taken her hand.

Now whether or not I'm a poet is of little concern to me ... what does concern me, or rather, what moves me is the humble yet powerful desire to express myself creatively. Poetry seems my means.

Do I want to be a Homer or a Milton ... of course not. I only want to be what God intends me to be. Nevertheless, the passion, the Muse that ran furiously through the blood of those poets ... yeah, I want some of that.

*Paradise Lost, Book IV 268 - 275

Not that fair field
Of Enna, where Proserpine gathering flowers,
Herself a fairer flower by gloomy Dis
Was gathered, which cost Ceres all that pain
To seek her through the world; nor that sweet grove
Of Daphne by Orontes, and the inspired
Castalian spring, might with this Paradise
Of Eden strive...


Katarina Silva said...

You chart a beautiful journey for us in this blog entry John: a little glimpse into the dialogue your soul, and mind, and heart have had with great poets of the past, and the alluring trail they've left for us. You describe your attraction to and for the experience of being a poet beautifully when you write: "the passion, the Muse that ran furiously through the blood of those poets ... yeah, I want some of that." I can imagine anyone who wouldn't! To me, poetry is like the language of heavenly realms! I echo your sentiments of desiring to experience a bit of that heaven. And yes, I also remember the first time I encountered Milton! :)

Doug P. Baker said...

As when through the deep ravines of drought-stricken mountain
A god-sustained blaze wildly sweeps, and the thick forest burns
As the driving wind wreathes all in whirling flame,
So now Achilles raged everywhere with his spear,
Charching on like a demon, constantly pressing hard
On the foe and cutting them down in such numbers that the black earth
Ran with Trojan blood. And like a pair
Of broad-browed, loud-lowing bulls that some farmer yokes
To tread out white barley strewn on his firm threshing-floor,
And quickly their hooves do the husking, even so the solid-hoofed
Horses of great-souled Achiles trampled on corpses
And shields. And the axle below and handrails above
Were all splashed and bespattered with blood from the battering hooves
Of the horses and metal rims of the wheels, as onward
Achilles pressed in pursuit of glory, soiling
His unconquered hands with the filth of horrible slaughter.
(Iliad book XX, 550-565)

John, you have picked your role models very wisely! You could be 1% the poet Homer and Milton are, and still be the greatest poet living today!

John W. May said...

... "poetry is like the language of heavenly realms" ... So true, yet I doubt the majority of us have even reflected on it- let alone acknowledge it. Thank you again, Katrina.

Hey, Doug! It's been a minute- hope all is well. Strangest thing, you crossed my mind while I typed Homer's words here ... and how cool is it that you then leave an awesome selection from that poet's works in my comments area! Hey, great to hear from you.

As of April 9th, 2010