Keki Daruwalla

(1937 - / Lahore / British India (Pakistan))

The Poseidonians


(After Cavafy)

[We behave like] the Poseidonians in the Tyrrhenian
Gulf, who although of Greek origin, became barbarized
as Tyrrhenians or Romans and changed their speech
and the customs of their ancestors. But they observe
one Greek festival even to this day; during this they
gather together and call up from memory their ancient
names and customs, and then lamenting loudly to
each other and weeping , they go away.
Athenios, Deipnosophistai, Book 14, 31A [632]




All it takes to blight a language
is another sun. It's not burn
that does it, or chill, or the way
woods straggle down the hills, or seas
curl along the shingled coast.
It is the women, cowering
in fear, whom the soldiers,
as they clamber down the boats,
first reassure and then marry.

They are faithful, good with grain,
at baking bread and fermenting wine
and unscrambling the fish shoals from the meshes.
They get the goddesses wrong sometimes [but so what?]
Confusing mother with daughter.
And there are minor errors
In ritual and sacrifice,
In lustration oils and libations.

A few seasons teach the man
that his woman's omen birds are always right;
her fears travel down the bloodstream
and a new language emerges from the placenta.

What does one do with a thought
that embarks on one script and lands on another?
A hundred years go by, perhaps two hundred,
Living with the Tyrrhenians and the Etruscans,
and they discover there is more to language
than merely words, that every act
from making wine to making love
filters through a different prism of sound,
and they have forgotten the land they set sail from
and the syllables that seeded that land.

What do they do, except once a year
At a lyre-and-lute festival,
Greek to the core, with dance and contests,
grope for memories in the blood,
like Demeter, torch in hand,
looking for her netherworld daughter?
And weep a little for the Greece they have lost
and reflect on the gulf of years which has proved
wider than the Tyrrhenian gulf,
and the hiatus between languages,
wider than the Aegean ?
What can they do, but weep for Agora
and Acropolis, forever left behind;
and reflect, how three centuries distant
from the Ionian coast,
they have been barbarized by Rome?

[From: A Summer of Tigers]

Submitted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Form:


Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (The Poseidonians by Keki Daruwalla )

Enter the verification code :

There is no comment submitted by members..

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  2. If, Rudyard Kipling
  3. Daffodils, William Wordsworth
  4. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  5. Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
  6. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
  7. Alone, Edgar Allan Poe
  8. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  9. Death is Nothing at All, Henry Scott Holland
  10. Matilda Who told Lies, and was Burned to.., Hilaire Belloc

Poem of the Day

poet Hilaire Belloc

Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one's Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
...... Read complete »

   

Member Poem

New Poems

  1. The role of Kama, Rm.Shanmugam Chettiar.
  2. I Dream of Her, Olufayo Ezekiel
  3. I realized why we get hurt, Tiyani Shadrack Manganya
  4. That fatal day to all, Rm.Shanmugam Chettiar.
  5. Love Note 10, Michael P. McParland
  6. Secularism in true sense, Rm.Shanmugam Chettiar.
  7. Mark o Connor's ballad of a man from sno.., Juwon Daniel
  8. you need to know: (, Manauwer Raza
  9. Solitary song, gajanan mishra
  10. To Sleep I Go, Michael P. McParland
[Hata Bildir]