Tag Archives: Greek Mythology

“Sirens”

You quickly cross that peril off the list
Because the danger, you assume, has passed,
But other sets of Sirens still exist
And might enchant you when no ropes or mast
Or loyal friends with wax to stop their ears
Restrain your mad, unquenchable desire
To touch the blazing sun that sears
Without enduring its consuming fire.

It’s easy to resist when you’re in chains
And friendly prison guards can’t hear your voice,
But one who’s absolutely free refrains
When fatal pleasure has become a choice.
Until you’ve walked by foes without your crutch,
Surviving battles doesn’t mean that much.

a sonnet by Paul Burgess

“Narcissus”

[Narcissus–painted by   Carvaggio]

“Narcissus”
As I gazed in a pond by a tree,
I was met by a copy of me
Who could mimic my talk
And the way that I walk.
He was fine as a fellow can be.

a limerick by Paul Burgess

 

 

“The Rage of Odysseus and the Cyclops”

 

[Polyphemus, painted by Jean-Leon Gerome]

“The Rage of Odysseus and the Cyclops”
Escaping near disaster made me bold.
Against the pleas companions wisely spoke,
I would not cease to taunt a wounded foe—
To make him feel again the blow
That rendered sightless that unsightly eye—
An eye that saw a meal, and little more,
Where gentler eyes would see a man in need.

The crash of boulders and resulting waves
Alarmed the crew, but rage was further fueled,
Not quenched, by drenching rains of salty sea—
The fire inside my spirit roared with flames
That strove to match the waves in height.
I thought I’d shout the fire ‘til none remained.

Despite increasing vehemence and force,
The hills he hurled and fiery words I shot
Became more futile as our distance grew.
Although I was exhausted, flames still burned.

Enraged about the men he had devoured,
I had endangered friends who were alive.
The smoke I blew had made me nearly blind,
And boulders hurled did not restore his sight.

a poem in blank verse–by Paul Burgess

Certain scenes from Homer continue to inspire me. This is the third poem I have written on this scene. The other two are here: https://paulwhitberg.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/cyclops/   https://paulwhitberg.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/the-blinding-of-the-cyclops-polyphemus/[As with everything I post, this is a first draft.]

“Cyclops”

“Cyclops (Blinded by Odysseus)”
[A monologue in blank verse by Paul Burgess]

[painting: Polyphemus, Johan Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein]

…More like a twig or crunchy bread than bone—

Reducing them to mush, I didn’t strain

My jaws on brittle bones as slight as theirs.

One man provided meat too scarce to hush

The growling beast inside my angry gut.

Who would expect the hero Ulysses—

Of prophecies divining tragedy—

To be the head of men a mouthful’s size?

Though blind, there’s something that I clearly see:

The cause of drastic effects might be small.

[A second attempt to explore the scene also examined in this poem:

https://paulwhitberg.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/the-blinding-of-the-cyclops-polyphemus/

At some point, I will likely try again to bring out the possible layers of interpretation contained in this classic scene from Homer.

“Why Mars Is Red…”

Inspired by Homer, Ovid, and the following post by CP Singleton: http://cpsingleton42.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/fridayfacts-11-june-6th/
“Mars in Love”
A Sonnet Explaining why Mars is Red

Some might assume he wears a rusty red
Because his lust for restless, raging war
With blood has dyed his garments’ ev’ry thread,
And red he has become from skin to core.
But truly, Mars, despite his brutal fame,
For more than blood alone has felt some care.
His reddish hue was caused by rueful shame.
When Vulcan revealed the god’s affair,
The tender place inside his broken heart
Was touched whenever Ares gave a thought
To Venus and him being kept apart
Or to infamy that for Love he’d bought.
Though from the snare of Vulcan he’s released,
To blush the warring God has never ceased.

 

by Paul Burgess

[The story of the love affair between Mars/Ares and Venus/Aphrodite comes from mythology, and the idea that Mars is red because of guilt, grief, and shame (especially for making his lover infamous) come from the addled head of Paul Burgess.]

“The Blinding of the Cyclops Polyphemus”

Modern Heroic Couplets by Paul Burgess–inspired by a scene in Homer [Book 9 of The Odyssey; one might view these lines as a compressed adaptation and modernization of a much longer passage.]

While clutching at his mutilated eye,
To Ulysses, the Cyclops gave reply:
“An oracle, whose words I could recite,
Predicted that the man who’d take my sight
Would be the famous hero Ulysses.
From mini morsels, shorter than my knees,
I had no fear of death or even harm—
A shadow might have caused me more alarm!
Assuming only force could make me blind,
I was not ready for a deadly mind.

 

–Anyone interested in Homer, Classical Poetry, or Early Modern English Literature* should check out George Chapman’s brilliant translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey. The following link leads to information on an inexpensive edition of the translation so famously praised by Keats: http://www.amazon.com/Chapmans-Homer-Odyssey-Classics-Literature/dp/1840221178/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401367076&sr=1-3&keywords=wordsworth+classics+chapman%27s+homer

*from the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods in which Shakespeare was one among several brilliant minds

“The Death of Hercules*” (or “Hercules and Deianira”) [Morals from Mythology]by Paul Burgess

“The Death of Hercules*” (or “Hercules and Deianira”) [Morals from Mythology]*

Beware of garments given by your wife.
A shirt one day might take away your life.

*The mighty hero who was killed by a poisoned shirt…

5 Limericks a Day (To Keep the Dr. Away)–By Paul O’Burgess [Day 8]

“An Aspiring Cardinal”
A man whose behavior’s absurd
Insists he’s becoming a bird.
“In Rome, by the sea,
A card’nal I’ll be”
Says that man whose behavior’s absurd.

“Mr. ________, Teacher of Middle School English”
There was once a man whose career
Induced him to drink lots of beer.
Whenever he’d teach,
There were bottles in reach
To help him endure his career.

“Tithonus of Dell”
There was an old miser from Dell
Whose age no person could tell.
He was freakishly old
And all covered with mold
And was better to see than to smell.

“A Boring, Moral, and Clean Limerick”

There was once a man who enjoyed
To do what most others avoid.
To repay what he’d owe
And be kind to a foe
Were some things that this person enjoyed.

“A Less Boring, Moral, and Clean Limerick–About a Beaver [Castor]

I saw once a beaver so big
It could swallow the whole of a pig.
It knew lots of tricks
With berries and sticks.
What a sight was that beaver so big!