christopher logue’s reworking of the iliad

Christopher Logue has been painstakingly revisiting/rewriting/transliterating Homer on a sporadic, piecemeal basis with his Kings: An Account of Books 1 and 2 of Homer’s Iliad (1991), The Husbands: An Account of Books 3 and 4 of Homer’s Iliad (1995), War Music (1987) and All Day Permanent Red: The First Battle Scenes Of Homer’s Iliad Rewritten (2003).

Cover Image

Two excerpts from Christopher Logue, All Day Permanent Red:

Drop into it.
Noise so clamorous it sucks.
You rush your pressed-flower hackles out
To the perimeter.
And here it comes:
That unpremeditated joy as you
—The Uzi shuddering warm against your hip
Happy in danger in a dangerous place
Yourself another self you found at Troy—
Squeeze nickel through that rush of Greekoid scum!
Oh wonderful, most wonderful, and then again more wonderful
A bond no word or lack of words can break,
Love above love!
And here they come again the noble Greeks,
Ido, a spear in one a banner in his other hand
Your life at every instant up for—
Gone.
And, candidly, who gives a toss?
Your heart beats strong. Your spirit grips.
King Richard calling for another horse (his fifth).
King Marshal Ney shattering his sabre on a cannon ball.
King Ivan Kursk, 22.30 hrs,
July 4th to 14th ’43, 7000 tanks engaged,
"…he clambered up and pushed a stable-bolt
Into that Tiger-tank’s red-hot-machine-gun’s mouth
And bent the bastard up. Woweee!"
Where would we be if he had lost?
Achilles? Let him sulk.

*


To welcome Hector to his death

God sent a rolling thunderclap across the sky
The city and the sea
And momentarily—
The breezes playing with the sunlit dust—
On either slope a silence fell.

Think of a raked sky-wide Venetian blind.
Add the receding traction of its slats
Of its slats of its slats as a hand draws it up.
Hear the Greek army getting to its feet.

Then of a stadium when many boards are raised
And many faces change to one vast face.
So, where there were so many masks,
Now one Greek mask glittered from strip to ridge.
Already swift
Boy Lutie took Prince Hector’s nod
And fired his whip that right and left
Signalled to Ilium’s wheels to fire their own,
And to the Wall-wide nodding plumes of Trojan infantry—

Flutes!
Flutes!
Screeching above the grave percussion of their feet
Shouting how they will force the savage Greeks
Back up the slope over the ridge, downplain
And slaughter them beside their ships—

Add the reverberation of their hooves: and
"Reach for your oars. . ."
T’lesspiax, his yard at 60°, sending it
Across the radiant air as Ilium swept
Onto the strip
Into the Greeks
Over the venue where
Two hours ago all present prayed for peace.
And carried Greece
Back up the slope that leads
Via its ridge
Onto the windy plain.

Download All Day Permanent Red here.


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