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by Dr. Lawrence Nannery
2013-06-26 10:46:19
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Later, dead, Agamemnon confided his heartache to Odysseus,
His eyes widened in complicity:
"Women … watch out for them. …
Way up inside them there is treachery.
Their natural feeling is a secret cut, always ready to flow.
They are mistresses of secret passages
Up, up, inside, past where you can ever go.
Your manhood, led by desire, is always searching for that spot, but
You would have to go even further than the very end of the womb. …
Treachery lives wherever a woman submits to a second man. …

"When she finds the man who can be the instrument
Of her resentment, there is no stopping her.
All the while making that fool think he is so big to her,
So irresistible, and then he is putty in her hands,
Thinking she does things for him she would never
Do for you, time over time.
Rage irresistible, they are swept along, and you
Will be swept out of everything  —  out of life too  —
If you are not suspicious and crafty, even in your own bed. …

"Do not let a word escape your lips, even in drink,
Even in the midst of the action in bed,
Even lying there in a sweat, in satiation.
Those truthful groans of love give information
That make her a better enemy. …

"No, keep you mind at a distance.  Keep her ignorant
Of the real you, of that mortal part of which
She can have no inkling if you do not reveal it. …
In overconfidence foolish men turn their strength
To weakness, and predator into prey.
So be mum. …"

And with this last word the Golden King widened his eyes again,
Put his index finger to his lips, and blew on it,
As though that would accomplish something.
Agamemnon, like a god among men, had found his famous, ignominious end
And now in Hades he spoke as if he had been conked on the head,
Not able to straighten his sights,
Though there had been much tractation of time.

And the one to whom he had spoken, the man many-facing,
Perfected by trials, now almost retired,
The man who pre-tricked hazard at every turn,
Bethought himself of the bitterness of betrayal,
And how every man denies to himself the possibility,
And so scorns the unfortunate neighbor who is its victim.


These thoughts accompanied his steps as he marched back to his ship
After gathering the required advice from the Seer down in Hades.
And other thoughts too  —
Of caressing his wife in the bed he had constructed thirty years before,
Whose headboard was the trunk of a tree, sturdy as any love,
And of just lying there, in the first early light,
Rubbing her buttocks, listening to her gentle snoring,
His little son  —  surely by now a man — in the next room.
The words of Agamemnon, uttered white-hot, now grew gray,
And were swallowed up by these thoughts,
As receding waves are swallowed by the sea.

Fate is stronger than wisdom: the story had a happy ending.
Confuting all heroics, fulfilling that dream he'd dragged about for twenty years
Of reunion, of dropping his wiles, and of simple repose,
Having moved from place to place in a sad singular subsistence,
Through adventure and peradventure,
But never closer, so it seemed, years passing, to his goal:
To return home and live a life uneventful  —
A desire poets will never believe  —
And thus, after the necessary slaughter and the restoration of order,
To escape from tragedy, all tears dried,
Declining gradually, and, in the end,
A legend heard round the world.


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