Saturday, March 20, 2010

Poem of the week: Achilles

Carol Ann Duffy is doing her British Poet Laureate thing again. She's hit the news after penning her latest poem titled Achilles. It's about David Beckham's heel injury. I think it's remarkable that a poet can make headlines with a new poem, the way a filmmaker might do with a new project. Perhaps news coverage comes with the Poet Laureate package.

Myth's river - where his mother dipped him, fished him, a slippery golden boy flowed on, his name on its lips.
Without him, it was prophesied, they would not take Troy.
Women hid him, concealed him in girls' sarongs; days of sweetmeats, spices, silver songs...
But when Odysseus came, with an athlete's build, a sword and a shield, he followed him to the battlefield, the crowd's roar,
And it was sport, not war, his charmed foot on the ball...
But then his heel, his heel, his heel...
I like how the word "heel" has become a cry at the end, evoking a rocking motion as well. This sounds a bit obvious, but what makes this poem enjoyable for me is the rhythm and internal rhymes (build, shield, battlefield; roar, sport, war...) - and here you can listen to Duffy herself reciting it.

See also: Carol Ann Duffy's Politics


Liyen said...

You're right about the rocking. I love the fact that one's voice is mediated by the tongue moving from the back to the front near your teeth in pronouncing the word heel. Softly urgent because of the h and l but still not screechy with the presence of the double ee's. Cool poem!
They should have more websites that send poems as e-cards. Why are people not more in love with well written and put together sets of words?

gnute said...

Yeah, it is a soft cry, isn't it... which makes it understated & powerful. I also think Duffy's playing on David's name, as Odysseus is a Goliath-type figure. Hm, two myths in one poem, so clever :-D.