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O tender Eros and Lady of Cyprus, some flush of beauty I
pray you devise
To flash on our bosoms and, O Aphrodite, rosily gleam on
our valorous thighs!
Joy will raise up its head through the legions warring and
all of the far-serried ranks of mad-love
Bristle the earth to the pillared horizon, pointing in vain to
the heavens above.
I think that perhaps then they'll give us our title—
What do you mean? Please explain.
First, we'll not see you now flourishing arms about into the
Marketing-place clang again.
No, by the Paphian.
Still I can conjure them as past were the herbs stand or crockery's sold
Like Corybants jingling (poor sots) fully armoured, they noisily round
on their promenade strolled.
And rightly; that's discipline, they—
But what's sillier than to go on an errand of buying a fish
Carrying along an immense. Gorgon-buckler instead the usual platter
A phylarch I lately saw, mounted on horse-back, dressed for the part
with long ringlets and all,
Stow in his helmet the omelet bought steaming from an old woman who
kept a food-stall.
Nearby a soldier, a Thracian, was shaking wildly his spear like Tereus
in the play,
To frighten a fig-girl while unseen the ruffian filched from her
fruit-trays the ripest away.
How, may I ask, will your rule re-establish order and justice in lands
Nothing is easier.
Out with it speedily—what is this plan that you boast you've invented?
If, when yarn we are winding, It chances to tangle, then, as perchance you
may know, through the skein
This way and that still the spool we keep passing till it is finally clear
So to untangle the War and its errors, ambassadors out on all sides we will
This way and that, here, there and round about—soon you will find that the
War has an end.
So with these trivial tricks of the household, domestic analogies of
threads, skeins and spools,
You think that you'll solve such a bitter complexity, unwind such political
problems, you fools!
Well, first as we wash dirty wool so's to cleanse it, so with a pitiless
zeal we will scrub
Through the whole city for all greasy fellows; burrs too, the parasites,
off we will rub.
That verminous plague of insensate place-seekers soon between thumb and
forefinger we'll crack.
All who inside Athens' walls have their dwelling into one great common
basket we'll pack.
Disenfranchised or citizens, allies or aliens, pell-mell the lot of them
in we will squeeze.
Till they discover humanity's meaning.... As for disjointed and far
Them you must never from this time imagine as scattered about just like
lost hanks of wool.
Each portion we'll take and wind in to this centre, inward to Athens
each loyalty pull,
Till from the vast heap where all's piled together at last can be woven
a strong Cloak of State.
How terrible is it to stand here and watch them carding and winding at
will with our fate,
Witless in war as they are.
What of us then, who ever in vain for our children must weep
Borne but to perish afar and in vain?
Not that, O let that one memory sleep!
Then while we should be companioned still merrily, happy as brides may,
the livelong night,
Kissing youth by, we are forced to lie single.... But leave for a moment
our pitiful plight,
It hurts even more to behold the poor maidens helpless wrinkling in
Does not a man age?
Not in the same way. Not as a woman grows withered, grows he.
He, when returned from the war, though grey-headed, yet
if he wishes can choose out a wife.
But she has no solace save peering for omens, wretched and
lonely the rest of her life.