This writers’ block cannot last forever.
It’s really irritating, nonetheless,
to sit here hour after hour and never
write down a single word, I must confess.
My mind’s a blank much as I endeavour
To write a story. Onward, regardless!
This drought is drying up my well of words
my thoughts trapped fluttering like netted birds.
Homer, your Muse, Calliope, is here.
Write of a warrior king – none bolder
a victor in war but haunted by fear:
the fear of losing his wife now older
by twenty summers, and his son one year
young when the king went to war. He’d told her:
“Stay safe, my love” but silently had prayed,
“Zeus, please let her love for me never fade.”
Ah, Calliope, you mean that famous
hero who travelled far and wide after
he’d plundered the fair city of Troy? Thus,
released from war, and once all the laughter,
relief, and backslapping were over plus
the spoils and slaves divided, thereafter
took what became an epic journey home
to Ithaca through the sea’s savage foam?
Yes, I mean Odysseus, whose diverse
travels took him to many lands where he
observed strange customs barbaric and worse.
He voyaged on, braving the cruel sea,
shielding his scared crew from Poseidon’s curse.
He tried to bring all his crewmen home free
but they perished through their own mad folly
plunging him into deep melancholy.
They disobeyed him and ate sacred cows
owned by Hyperion. Thus, when great Zeus
heard of this, he sank their ship by the bows
swamped by gigantic waves. Then Zeus let loose
mighty thunderbolts ignoring their vows
to honour him – all save Odysseus
Oh no, I’ve lost my creativity
my muse fades into inactivity!
Hear me! – other survivors of wrecked ships
got safely home. Odysseus, alone,
did not. Undaunted by wild tidal rips,
he would survive hurricane and hailstone
to find his wife again and kiss her lips.
But, he pined away in a cave unknown
the unwilling consort of Calypso.
This lovesick goddess, would not let him go.
Then, after years passed by, there came a sign.
The gods were minded to let him go back
as Odysseus continued to pine
for his wife, Penelope, with no lack
of love or longing. Nor could the divine
Calypso tempt him to wed her or crack
his resolve to go home and meet his son,
Telemachus, last seen by him aged one.
The gods were agreed – all save Poseidon
who tormented the mortal without pause.
He wouldn’t let our hero abandon
Calypso’s cave and return home because
Odysseus blinded Poseidon’s son,
the one-eyed giant, Cyclops – with just cause.
This barbaric monster had been beating
his crew – tearing off their flesh and eating.
But then, Poseidon travelled far away
to the end of the known world to accept
a great sacrifice from the people they
call Ethiopians whose shores he swept.
They sacrificed a hundred bulls a day
to honour Poseidon who would have wept
to miss that feast! He, the exalted guest,
would be praised and feted above the rest.
The other gods met in the house of Zeus
(in Poseidon’s absence) fearing the worst.
Zeus had been reflecting on Aegisthus,
killed by Orestes who sated his thirst
for vengeance on he who schemed to seduce
his chaste mother, Queen Clytemnestra first
then killed his dear father, Agamemnon.
Thus spoke great Zeus, the god of gods, thereon:
See how mortals cast blame upon us gods
for what is, after all, nothing but their
own stupidity. And so, they make rods
for their own backs when they act without care.
Look at Aegisthus. Against all the odds
he must have Agamemnon’s wife. He’d bear
the guilt of sharing an unrighteous bed
with her and then stabbing her husband dead.
He knew this would lead to his own demise.
I even sent swift Hermes to warn him
against seducing Clytemnestra. I despise
such sheer disrespect! He deserved the grim
fate he met and anyone who defies
the will of the gods forfeits life and limb.
Hermes told the villain this in good will.
he would not listen, so he paid the bill.
You have just read the first 12 stanzas of Canto One of my version of the Odyssey.
To read more, please contact me.Alex.