Wednesday, January 12, 2005
The ocean flees from shore, its shells laid bare
As if Achaean ships had slipped away
By Trojan night, and left its towers there;
For one dread instant silence rules the bay.
Then grave Poseidon's fearsome voice peals out
And summons up his watery stampede
In swelling wave, a mighty roaring shout,
All charging up the beach at breakneck speed.
Then rolling, smashing over those who stand
Like statues turned by fright to solid stone,
And blotting out those running up the strand
The violent waves upon the land are thrown.
And wave and wave and wave comes surging on
To scour clean the land of human trace —
As if the sea threw evil Acheron
Upon the land, man's presence to erase.
The sea recedes and seeks again its bed,
Retreating, giving up the land it won;
Its army leaving littered fields of dead
Sad limbs akimbo, silent in the sun.
The sullen sea its brooding counsel keeps
Beyond the cries of saddened shorebound men
What awesome powers harbor in its deeps
As quiet rolls the ocean swell again.
Diviners vainly seek to understand
Such cataclysmic turns of dreadful fate
Lamenting that they cannot gods command
To spare the ones for whom they supplicate.
There is no reason good or ill to find
Why any given soul is swept to woe
Nor why one man is lame or one is blind:
Such mysteries are not for men to know.
© 2004 Jeffrey Hull