The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Friday

Achilles' Song
By Robert Duncan

I do not know more than the Sea tells me,
told me long ago, or I overheard Her
     telling distant roar upon the sands,
waves of meaning in the cradle of whose
     sounding and resounding power I

                              Manchild,     She sang

--or was it a storm uplifting the night
     into a moving wall in which
I was carried as if a mothering nest had
     been made in dread?

the wave of a life darker than my
     life before me sped, and I,
larger than I was, grown dark as
     the shoreless depth,
arose from myself, shaking the last
     light of the sun
from me.

                              Manchild,     She said,

Come back to the shores of what you are.
Come back to the crumbling shores.

     All night
The mothering tides in which your
     Life first formd in the brooding
light have quencht the bloody
     Splendors of the sun

and, under the triumphant processions
     of the moon, lay down
thunder upon thunder of an old
     longing, the beat

of whose repeated spell
     consumes you.

                              Thetis, then,
     my mother, has promised me
the mirage of a boat, a vehicle
     of water within the water,
and my soul would return from
     the trials of its human state,
from the long siege, from the
     struggling companions upon the plain,
from the burning towers and deeds
     of honor and dishonor,
the deeper unsatisfied war beneath
     and behind the declared war,
and the rubble of beautiful, patiently
     workt moonstones, agates, jades, obsidians,

turnd and retrund in the wash of
     the tides, the gleaming waste,
     the pathetic wonder,

words turnd in the phrases of song
     before our song ...or are they

beautiful, patiently workt remembrances of those
     long gone from me,
returned anew, ghostly in the light
     of the moon, old faces?

For Thetis, my mother, has promised
     me a boat,
a lover, an up-lifter of my spirit
     into the rage of my first element
rising, a princedom
     in the unreal, a share in Death


Time, time. It's time.

The business of Troy has long been done.

Achilles in lreuke has come home.

And soon you too     will be alone.

--December 10, 1968


My computer crashed royally about half an hour ago and it took me this long to get back up and running, so this will be a rambling, unedited entry. Had a relatively quiet day; followed some of the Star Trek auction coverage, did a brief article on it, gagged, did another brief article on the Memory Alpha wiki reaching 20,000 entries, noticed that they were advertising themselves as the place to go look things up before you bid on them in the auction and gagged more. I wonder how much the minor crew who actually built these pieces, as opposed to the designers, ever got paid for them? Nothing like what Paramount is going to rake in on this auction, let alone Christie's -- the catalogue alone went for nearly $100 and fans snapped them up just to have a look.

Older son stayed late at school to rewrite a US History essay that he slacked on last week -- I saw the final draft when he was printing it out and told him it had some outright errors and some broad generalizations, he refused any further revisions, got a D on it and right now his grade for the quarter is a C pending the rewrite. Ironically, other than that he has straight As at midterm except chorus where his teacher has complained that he spends too much time in class talking...I don't know whether to sit on his head about this or be glad he has friends in that group, as the chorus kids seem artsier and generally more social than the magnet math kids, who seem only to talk about video games. I spent the afternoon helping younger son organize his binder, which somehow in the month since school started has become chaos -- seems he forgot to take out and give me 3/4 of the flyers sent home for parental perusal, which I was starting to suspect since I never saw any. It's a good thing we ran into his math teacher at the orthodontist yesterday and she reminded him to turn in his homework for the week or I'm sure that would have stayed in the binder too! I shudder to think what he will be like in middle school, because he is phenomenally bright but has no use for niceties like spelling, showing his work, finishing sheets with what he deems to be too many similar problems, etc.

The Pacino/Fiennes/Irons Merchant of Venice was on cable in the late afternoon and we started watching it together, then everyone else got home and watched with us though I had really expected the kids to be bored -- the courtroom drama is absolutely riveting and the performances are brilliant, particularly Irons' and Pacino's. (Do I need spoiler cuts for Shakespeare?) What interested me was how, in order to deal with all the problems of Shylock's Jewishness and how it is handled in the play, the focus was shifted to make it less of a love story among the major couples but a story of fear, distrust and people pretending to be people they aren't just to keep their socially safe marriages and positions, with Antonio as a dangerous outsider who for a moment it looks like Portia might be willing to sacrifice to make sure her husband doesn't love him more than he loves her! The homosexual subtext is very nearly text in this film -- Antonio is obsessed with Bassanio, and Bassanio knows it and takes advantage of it when he needs a favor, and then Bassanio is so devastated at the thought that he might lose Antonio that he would gladly trade his marriage for Antonio's life, and Portia plays a nasty little game to guilt him into fidelity and Antonio into realizing that she's much better at the ball-and-chain thing than he is. I have enormous issues with The Merchant of Venice as a reader -- there's really no comfortable subject position for a Jewish woman, you're either identifying with the heartless villain, with a daughter whose identity as an individual is dependent upon her casting off her father and his religion or with a feminist heroine whose power comes not only from pretending to be a man but in practicing "Christian" values that leave no room for peaceful coexistence with the Jews of Venice -- and I really liked the focus on historical anti-Semitism, the righteousness of Shylock's anger and the blazing hypocrisy of the Catholics.

Okay, so too much time in front of the TV...watched Smallville and Shark around "The Tholian Web," which I need to review tomorrow -- I must say that this week, original Trek held up far better than the newer shows, though it helps that this one contains some of the best Kirk/Spock/McCoy material all series. I really expected a character named "Mr. Pontius" to be a villain and was laughing at Lex's naivete, and as soon as Lana went all "rescue mission" I was all "oh shit, now Clark is going to have to go save them BOTH again" because if there's one thing that's consistent on Smallville, it's that even when the producers let Lana kick ass for ten seconds, they will have her screw up five seconds later so Kristin Kreuk can make the one convincing emotional face in her repertoire, the "Oh nooo get me OUT of here!" face. Um yeah bored, even with Mr. Queen *snickering* there to shoot his arrows and speak of Lex in what sounds like lustful tones because he isn't really a great actor either. Oh Lionel, there is just not enough of you, and not enough Chloe and Lois either, though I'm amused Lois got her start at the equivalent of the National Enquirer...

As for Shark, it was surprisingly predictable given all the twists thrown in, though well-acted and the younger lawyers are growing on me, though I wish Jeri Ryan had more screen time and I don't really care about the office romance between the two most ambitious players. Did not at all like the fact that a man who accidentally killed his wife in the course of abusing her -- he knocked her down the stairs and broke her neck, whether he intended that or only to slap her for her insolence! -- was portrayed as this poor loving father deserving of clemency even after a massive cover-up and exposing everyone around him. Liked Shark's daughter's discomfort with her father's sleeping around on the girlfriend she likes, and also her demand that she should get to have boyfriends sleep over if he gets to have girlfriends sleep over. The problem with a show about prosecutors, I think, is that it's hard to stop them from looking either self-righteous or stupid -- when they're right about things, there's a lot of the former, and when they're wrong it's the latter, and in this episode they tried to have it both ways, with somewhat mixed results. Ah well, I'm still enjoying it more than Studio 60. And still, Shark gets major bonus points for playing Iron & Wine over the closing scene and credits.

Here are some pictures from the reptile show at Rock Creek Park Day last weekend...

Reptiles Alive is always a huge hit with kids, who keep creeping toward the table with the cages and have to be reminded repeatedly to move back.

The woman who talks about the animals makes fabulous faces while describing what they eat and stuff.

Here for instance she shows off a bullfrog and eagerly discusses eating bugs.

Doesn't it look like she's going to eat the box turtle like a sandwich?

I want a bracelet like this!

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