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Memorial: Part 2

from Memorial: Part 2

The priest of Hephaestus
Hot-faced from staring at flames
Prayed every morning the same prayer
Please god respect my status
Protect my sons PHEGEUS and IDAEUS
Calm down their horses lift them
Out of the fight as light as ash
Hephaestus heard him but he couldn’t
Hold those bold boys back
Riding over the battlefield too fast
They met a flying spear
And like a lift door closing
Inexplicable Hephaestus
Whisked one of them away
And the other died

What happened to that man from Alybe far away in the east
What happened to ODIOS what happened to PHAESTUS
He came from Tarne where the soil is loose and crumbly

Like snow falling like snow
When the living winds shake the clouds into pieces
Like flutters of silence hurrying down
To put a stop to the earth at her leafwork

Like snow falling like snow
When the living winds shake the clouds into pieces
Like flutters of silence hurrying down
To put a stop to the earth at her leafwork

SCAMANDRIUS the hunter
Knew every deer in the woods
He used to hear the voice of Artemis
Calling out to him in the lunar
No man’s land of the mountains
She taught him to track her animals
But impartial death has killed the killer
Now Artemis with all her arrows can’t help him up
His accurate firing arm is useless
Menelaus stabbed him
One spear-thrust through the shoulders
And the point came out through the ribs
His father was Strophius

Like when a mother is rushing
And a little girl clings to her clothes
Wants help wants arms
Won’t let her walk
Like staring up at that tower of adulthood
Wanting to be light again
Wanting this whole problem of living to be lifted
And carried on a hip

Like when a mother is rushing
And a little girl clings to her clothes
Wants help wants arms
Won’t let her walk
Like staring up at that tower of adulthood
Wanting to be light again
Wanting this whole problem of living to be lifted
And carried on a hip

Beloved of Athene PHERECLES son of Harmion
Brilliant with his hands and born of a long line of craftsmen
It was he who built the cursed fleet of Paris
Little knowing it was his own death boat
Died on his knees screaming
Meriones speared him in the buttock
And the point pierced him in the bladder

And PEDAEUS the unwanted one
The mistake of his father's mistress
Felt the hot shock in his neck of Meges' spear
Unswallowable sore throat of metal in his mouth
Right through his teeth
He died biting down on the spearhead

Like suddenly it thunders
And a stormwind rushes down
And roars into the sea’s ears
And the curves of many white-patched waves
Run this way and that way

Like suddenly it thunders
And a stormwind rushes down
And roars into the sea’s ears
And the curves of many white-patched waves
Run this way and that way ....

Listen to this poem in its entirety on Alice Oswald, Memorial: Read by the author, a Faber & Faber CD audiobook. Details of how to purchase this CD, and the accompanying hardback book, can be found by following the link at the top of this page to the Extras section on Alice Oswald's Poetry Archive page.


Extract from Memorial (Faber, 2011), © Alice Oswald 2011, used by permission of the author and Faber & Faber Ltd. Recording from the audio CD Memorial by Alice Oswald (Faber, 2011), used by permission of Faber & Faber Ltd.

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