Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Elpenor

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Elpenor

Article excerpt

I don't know why he's my favorite character

in The Odyssey, though Pound must have agreed

because he gives him a lot of space in Canto I.

Maybe it's because he's so much like us,

a nobody who falls off a ladder while drunk

atop Circe's roof.

We all fall off ladders. Sometimes we get drunk.

Maybe we've spend a bit of time with a Circe.

We're not noble, like Odysseus, nor raving mad

like Ajax when he slaughtered the sheep.

We're not sagacious like Tiresias

nor are we mere duds like Telemachus.

We're just blokes, stupid, looking for fun

where it can't be found, careless with ladders.

Because it never occurs to us we will fall off

one of them though we always do.

Half the time we don't know we're alive

until we wind up in hell pleading

for a decent burial. To be remembered

but not worth remembering. …

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