Log in

No account? Create an account
15 May 2004 @ 10:52 am
I Hear an Army  
Ladies and Gentlemen,

today's broadcast of gratuitous poetry goes out to selenak. Consider it a small "Thank You" for the highly interesting review of "Troy" that she has written.

I Hear an Army

I hear an army charging upon the land,
And the thunder of horses plunging; foam about their knees:
Arrogant, in black armour, behind them stand,
Disdaining the rains, with fluttering whips, the Charioteers.

They cry into the night their battle name:
I moan in sleep when I hear afar their whirling laughter.
They cleave the gloom of dreams, a blinding flame,
Clanging, clanging upon the heart as upon an anvil.

They come shaking in triumph their long grey hair:
They come out of the sea and run shouting by the shore.
My heart have you no wisdom thus to despair?
My love, my love, my love, why have you left me alone?

(James Joyce)

I found the poem just this morning while browsing a pile of secondary literature about Joyce and thought that it fitted the movie's theme quite nicely *g*


Selena, by the time you are reading this entry, "Power Play" will probably already be on its way to your place :-)
Current Mood: workingworking
Current Music: Quiz Show, Soundtrack
Selenaselenak on May 15th, 2004 07:48 am (UTC)
I read that one in school and fell in love. Was very dissappointed to find out later that Joyce wrote mostly prose.*g* But yes, it fits very well.

Thank you on both counts!
Cavendishcavendish on May 15th, 2004 08:27 am (UTC)
Although posted for selena, I dared reading it also ;-)) and I greatly enjoyed the poem. When was it written?

And speaking of "Troy": Have you decided if you want to see the movie? I am not really sure, but if _you_ go, give me a ring :-).

BTW, I have just come back from Marc and Anke, where I spend the better part of the day, but more on this via the phone. IF you like, you can phone me any time today or tomorrow, as soon as you have decided about monday :-).

But now I am off to the TV to watch the new "Angel" episode. IS it any good?


Cavendishcavendish on May 16th, 2004 09:08 am (UTC)
impatient me :-)
To answer the question posed in my former comment myself;-) : The poem obviously appeared in Ezra Pound's famous anthology "Des Imagists" and thus had been written in or shorty before 1914.

Which was what I suspected, because I did not think Jocye would have used the image in the same way after 1918. (Masterfully as it is used, but I think it needs to be read without WWI in mind)

One year later, in 1915, Ezra Pound, in his collection "Cathay", with (alleged) translations from ancient Chinese, used a technique quite similar in his "Song from the Bowman of Chu". But here an ancient war serves as methaphor for something completely different:

Song of the Bowmen of Shu
by: Ezra Pound

Here we are, picking the first fern-shoots
And saying: When shall we get back to our country?
Here we are because we have the Ken-nin for our foemen,
We have no comfort because of these Mongols.
We grub the soft fern-shoots,
When anyone says "Return," the others are full of sorrow.
Sorrowful minds, sorrow is strong, we are hungry and thirsty.
Our defence is not yet made sure, no one can let his friend return.
We grub the old fern-stalks.
We say: Will we be let to go back in October?
There is no ease in royal affairs, we have no comfort.
Our sorrow is bitter, but we would not return to our country.
What flower has come into blossom?
Whose chariot? The General's.
Horses, his horses even, are tired. They were strong.
We have no rest, trhee battles a month.
By heavn, his horses are tired.
The generals are on them, the soldiers are by them.
The horses are well trained, the generals have ivory arrows and
quivers ornamented with fish-skin.
The enemy is swift, we must be careful.
When we set out, the willows were drooping with spring,
We come back in the snow,
We go slowly, we are hungry and thirsty,
Our mind is full of sorrow, who will know of our grief?

From "Cathay", 1915