Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review of "The Odyssey, Book 11: ll. 538-556" by Rowan Ricardo Phillips

"The Odyssey, Book 11: ll. 538-556" by Rowan Ricardo Phillips, associate professor of English and director of the Poetry Center at Stony Brook University, was offered by Poets.org's Poem-A-Day on December 19, 2013.  A link to the poem, including the poet's notes, may be found here:

http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/23810?utm_source=PAD%3A+The+Odyssey%2C+Book+11%3A+ll.+538-556+by+Rowan+Ricardo+Phillips&utm_campaign=poemaday_121913&utm_medium=email

Mr. Phillips offers an interesting twist on the mythology of the legendary battle of rhetoric between Odysseus and Ajax over whom was most worthy to wear the armor of the recently slain Achilles.  The poet has done well to preserve the alliterative decameter of the original--no easy task for a translation.

Here is Odysseus in heaven--not the Elysium Fields of Greek myth--but heaven as a Christian might suppose it to be.  Odysseus finds Ajax there--surprisingly, given that he took his own life.  Thinking, as he always did, that he could use his way with words in order to reconcile with Ajax, Odysseus speaks to his old comrade-in-arms in a manner both charming and disarming.  However, Ajax returns Odysseus' kind and conciliatory words with silence, ever angry even in death over the injustice he suffered in life.


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