Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Victory of Death

Some Greeks (and Romans) thought death the complete end; most, however, envisaged a continuing, shadowy existence in Hades. Homer, for example, tells of a murky world full of witless, gibbering shadows that must drink sacrificial blood before they can think straight, let alone talk. This poem represents that kind of sensibility, a pessimism that not even atheists have today.

The Victory of Death
There we came together, in that place
In which we meet death face to face
Marble columns rising to great height
And here we came to celebrate the rite
Our friends, our lovers, now no more
Into the land of shadows, death's door
And down to that darkest river below
Of forgetting all that they do know
Who shall pay the ferryman? Not I
Until the day comes when I too die
And take my place among the shades
Cut off from life by sharpest blades
And down the tunnel, into the dark
No more the singing of the lark
Night falls, Hades takes his throne
A land of ashes, of defleshed bone
And into that dark land, none return
Whether buried, or bones that burn

No comments: