Poetry Tuesday: A Strange Race of Critics

(Originally read as A Strange Race of Critters.)

Antiphanes, ancient Greece, 388-311 BCE.

A strange race of critics,
They perform autopsies on
The poetry of the dead.
Sad bookworms,
They chew through thorns.

No poet’s too dull
For them to elucidate, these who defile
The bones of the great.
Callimachus attacked them like a dog.
Out! Into the long darkness.
Perpetual beginner, little gnat—
It is a poet you distract.


Poetry Tuesday: Theris and his Fish Traps

Full title: Theris, the old man who lived by his fish traps.
By Leonidas of Tarentum, somewhere in Greece, circa 300 BCE.

Theris, the old man who lived by his fish traps
And nets, more at home on the sea than a gull,
The terror of fishes, the net hauler, the prober
Of sea caves, who never sailed on a many-oared ship
Died in spite of Arcturus. No storm shipwrecked
His many decades. He died in his reed hut,
And went out by himself like a lamp at the
End of his years. No wife or child set up this
Tomb, but his fishermen’s union.


Poetry Tuesday: Epitaph Justice

(Sorry for no Music Monday yesterday, but I spent the evening listening to the bandleader/pianist of Cirque du Soleil Corteo, as well as the show’s whistler—he’s amazing!—and one of the most beautiful/powerful voices I’ve ever heard. I even sang a duet from Phantom of the Opera; had no idea I knew the words!)

But on with our regularly scheduled show.
This little ditty is by Theocritus, somewhere in Greece, circa 300 BCE. Quite literally the definition of “classic snark.”

The poet Hipponax lies here.
In justice, this is only fair.
His lines were never dark or deep.
Now he enjoys—like his readers—sleep.


Poetry Tuesday: To A Swallow

By Euenos, somewhere in Greece (most likely), about 2000 years ago.

Relish honey. If you please
Regale yourself on Attic bees.
But spare, O airy chatterer,
Spare the chattering grasshopper!

Winging, spare his gilded wings,
Chatterer, his chatterings.
Summer’s child, do not molest
Him the summer’s humblest guest.

Snatch not for your hungry young
One who like yourself has sung–
For it is neither just nor fit
That poets should each other eat.