The Shield of Achilles, by Kevin McGrath

Flow, by Jonathan Galassi

Down the path between the apples through the maple grove of suicides then left at the old wall along the wire fence to the brook- bank where narcissus noses into skunk cabbage and hepatica: Call me Apollo, crashing in the underbrush    with my arrows, my bow saw and clippers    out for your flash of white tail and alert to hack me a path to your lair, to your cult’s den,   … Read more

The Charioteer: two poems by Agathi Dimitrouka

Translated by Natasha Bershadsky Hippolytus and Phaedra To Gregory Nagy narration Hippolytus, young, beautiful and modest, son of Theseus and some Amazon, was devoted to Artemis, scorning Aphrodite. The offended goddess of love inspired in Phaedra, his stepmother, a vehement passion for him: she used to go from Athens to Troezen, hiding herself behind a myrtle tree and peeking at him during his athletic exercises; and as the desire was… Read more

Reading late: Anabasis, three poems by Ishion Hutchinson

The Wanderer Still clear from its very first shout, ‘Thalatta! Thalatta!’ is the clamour every wave brings, 10, 000 voices arched into one, shaking the mountain clouds down to mist, power they sing, spitting salt into flames, to outlast the memory of those who toiled with the mongoose and snake, never to sit like a colossal Memnon as his songs turn into brass croaks, language reentering the guttural cave before… Read more

Death of a Faun, by William Wootten

Hark at the shepherdess! Then note her unbelievable distress On finding how her much loved faun is dead. She listened as the shepherds said Her faun was mostly goat. In her lap, she cradled the cut throat And the horned head. She would have cut the shepherds’ throats instead.                            But now, the shepherds play And sing into the far-too-hot midday. They capture with their shady threnodies The shepherdess upon… Read more

Chorus of the Birds, by Paul Muldoon

From The Birds by Aristophanes Image by Duncan Cameron (@brokensharkcage) CHORUS: Dearest one, we love the dun of your coat, your reddish throat, you who are first flute of the forest. Let your voice ring out to Spring that it may be heard over the chorus of birds. Come, you who live in the half-light between the night-going-on-day or day-going-on-night, you poor creatures of clay, you poor spectres, you poor… Read more

Leaning in, by Rachel Hadas

Translated to Greek by George Chaldezos   Students all too commonly misconstrue the poem in which Sappho calls that man equal to a god who, opposite you, leans in and      whispers, etcetera,   tending to assume it’s about two people: speaker/loved one? Beloved and man near her, bending close to her, whom the poet hears as,      heads close together,   they laugh softly? Wait: that makes three. Sweat’s… Read more

Three poems by Vassilis Vassilikos

Translated by George Chaldezos & Nick Fielding I CHILDHOOD MEMORY Mattresses to mend! Mattresses to mend! Bow on his back, he roamed the streets. Suyulu, Five-Hundreds, Ay-Yanni.* Cheerfully he looked at me, a little lad looking at him, an archery victor at an ancient Olympic He sat on the concrete of our pre-war yard, face deeply lined by Acronauplia.** My mother would bring out comfortable mattresses and he, with his… Read more

Temporary like Achilles #2 and Kerouacts 1-6, by Thomas Palaima

Temporary Like Achilles #2 (for Leon Golden) Inspired by Achilles’ own words Iliad 1.149–171, 1.365–392, 9.308–429 'Rage,' Homer sings. 'Sing the rage of Achilles.' Twenty-three raids, twenty-three sieges of cities, all taken, feeding soldiers and the pride-lust of commanders. A true shepherd of the forces. Unique in speed afoot, strategic brilliance, endurance and making men endure and save themselves from themselves. Noble, caring even of spear captives. Briseis loved him.… Read more

“We’ll die in crystalline Petropolis,” by Osip Mandelshtam, translated by Carol Rumens

We’ll die in crystalline Petropolis Whose ruling deity is Proserpina. We swallow deadly air with every breath, And every hour becomes a year of death. Goddess of oceans, terrible Afina, Resign your helmet’s stone magnificence. We’ll die in crystalline Petropolis Which is not ruled by you, but Proserpina. From Carol Rumens, The Greening of the Snow Beach,  Bloodaxe, 1988. The Russian National Library, crowned with a statue of Athena. Saint… Read more

Insomnia, Homer, taut sails, by Osip Mandelshtam

Translated by Philip Nikolayev   Insomnia, Homer, taut sails: my lips have lisped Down to the middle the detailed list of ships, That long brood and angular train of cranes That rose above Hellas once on wings of waves. A wedge of cranes into far foreign lands – Divine white froth forming upon kings’ heads – Where have you hoist sail to? If it were not for Helen What would… Read more

Three poems by Manuela Pellegrino

2020.04.11 | Introduction by Keith DeStone δέδυκε μὲν ἁ σελάννα . . . μέσαι δὲ νύκτες. The moon has gone down . . . it is the middle of the night. Only a young moon could have set so early, early enough that the middle of the night should be, as it was for Sappho in this famous poem, moonless. But what if the moon were a little older, and… Read more

ballō: two poems of Reginald Gibbons

Because of Aphrodite   ~ from Liddell-Scott-Jones, βάλλω (ballō)   The force with which something can be thrown, the release, the sweep of arm and wrist—a javelin in games, a heavy spear in combat, or battering blows of winds, and these gusts, too: rain, desire, wildfire’s roaring, fear, and fast-falling stone- cold night in lands of bone- hard darkness and screaming storm blasts that freeze the blood.   But in… Read more

The Epic Cycle, by Lanah Koelle

Rage fuels the taut tendons Pulsing contempt As he slays each pathetic competitor. Past the dragging herd— Ankles streaked with oil, raw knees, Thighs like giant oars spearing the air— He sails forth A body cultivated and primed. He rejects all costumes, every gear, the very idea of brakes. In his arms, unrealized potential Knuckles at ease, grazing the bars. Watching the speeding silhouette I know, He would rather die… Read more

Cypresses: Three poems by Carol Rumens

Cypresses for Greg Nagy   Slim shadows, ragged, slightly deformed, not tall, they were green young athletes once, who, lacking physique and horse-sense, killed themselves when they jumped on the turn in the chariot-race. And now they wait for the ferry, puzzling where between life and death they are, almost persuaded they’ve hit the ground running.     Anisychia   Death’s little wild friend, chattering Anisychia, already my courier, pushing… Read more

I am telling you with utter openness, by Osip Mandelshtam

  Ma voix aigre et fausse… P. Verlaine I’m telling you with utter Openness: All’s sheer fancy, sherry-frenzy, Dearest. Where earlier to a Hellene Beauty shone, There dark holes exposed to me A deep shame. Ancient Greeks they once filched Helen over the sea. On the lips with salty foam they stroke me. And the emptiness will dab me On the lips, The penury will give me the finger Austerеly.… Read more

Mandelshtam’s Greek Bees: Five poems by Reginald Gibbons

We present here five poems by Reginald Gibbons from his cycle “Dark Honey” (Last Lake, 2016), engaging in conversation with the poetry of Osip Mandelshtam. The final poem of the cycle, “For your sweet joy, take,” is a close rendering of a poem by Mandelshtam, in which the poet gives to his love a necklace of dead bees, who turned honey into sun. “Mandelshtam’s Greek bees” reflects on the same… Read more

Psyche-Life: Two poems by Carol Rumens

‘When Psyche-life follows Persephone…’   When, through translucent forest, Psyche-life follows Persephone down into the dark, a sightless swallow flings itself in her path with angry tenderness, and a twig in leaf.   The shades rush round to greet the visitor. They cry their miseries to a new-found friend and wring their feeble hands in bewilderment and timid longing, stretching out to her.   One offers her a mirror, one,… Read more

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