Lost on the plains of ancient Ílion,
Treading the windswept soil and stone,
I sense the ghosts of warriors and horsemen,
Of dark-eyed women and jealous kings.
Their history scattered, burned and ruined,
Pressed by time and scavenging hordes,
Yet restored to life in song and verse.
When poets and imagining hearts were stirred
To find heroes among brutal soldiers
And reasons for violence masked as greed.
Shades of blue lost to time reappear.
In their winding brains goddesses walked,
Holding an aegis made that bore a Gorgon’s face
Or gods who guided arrows and chose the dead.
Bards ever kept alive the rival gods
Before whom King Priam bowed and Achilles defiled.
Across the grape-blood waters of the Hellespont,
Aphrodite savored her own victory and watched
As Paris still kept the women she had given him.
Love was not among her calculations
Nor those of Zeus when he forbade hindrance
By the gods, who yet battled among themselves.
As mortal enemies fought the coming of allies.
For ten years, ships and horses swarmed to aid
The unbowed city, even Memnon and Penthesilia,
Both slain by the sword for reasons then forgot,
So their sacrifices failed to dent a lust for blood.
Yet armies tired and war ended, as all wars do,
Through fatigue or fire or the scattering of slaves.
Now time has whitened the ruins and sands
And Boreas sweeps away the shards of stain
That dyed the cities’ walls and columns.
The scarlet buried below Herculaneum is gone,
And saffron gowns on dancing virgins,
All the horses’ indigo manes and hyakinthos
Sandals of Achilles, whose mother dyed them
Before he sailed, forgetting his Stygian bath.
He was clad in red to hide his blood,
So when wounded, his men would not cower.
Yet one arrow alone took his life; how telling
That more valiant men lost theirs closer to the soul!
Gone are the sheep, red-fleeced with madder
And argamon robes of brides and Cybele’s priests.
No sacrificial lambs or holy men walk here now,
On the bone white land and relics of a kingdom,
Yet the north wind, the lone god, continues to wail.
March 5, 2020
A salute to the Trojans, who fought such violent foes, the Achaeans (known to the West as Greeks), and the importance of their various colors, especially blue, purple and red, between what we see there now and what once was. I wanted to give what I viewed as a possible perspective from the Trojans.