05 December 2008

TIMEO DANAOS ET DONA FERENTES

Rotten sods

The very clever Iain Colley's deservedly winning entry of the Literary Review's July 2007 'Night & Day Poetry Prize' - subject 'The Gift' - expertly judged by Tom Fleming.

Passed to me by discerning Corfuchsia Irregular, Mia Bourloyiannis.

"They've got a word - 'hubristic'. That was us.
We thought they'd done their worst and gone away,
stymied by Trojan resolution. Plus
they'd left this wooden horse as if to say
'you win' - dirty great thing, we never thought
we'd get it through the gate. Although we did,
and what a dumb move that was. We got caught,
just when we were rejoicing we'd got rid.
The doom-and-gloom Laocoön was right
(much good it did him though) . The bloody horse
was packed with squaddies armed and fit to fight.
That's Greeks for you - low cunning and brute force,
a deadly combination. Bid adieu,
then sneak back in mobhanded. Rotten sods.
I figured 'nemesis' (that's their word too)
and legged it pronto, praying to the gods
those hoplites wouldn't catch me, spent a week
holed up in someone's cellar. We were stiffed,
and no mistake. So never trust a Greek,
even when he is handing you a gift."

1 comment :

Sibadd said...

Thanks! Great. The Greeks were even cleverer than this tho', leaving brave Sinon to validate the gift ruse. Virgil's evocation of the sacking of Troy in Aeniad Book 2, as Aeneas tells the story to Dido and her court. I was fortunate to hear David West's translation read by Richard Pasco on Penguin Audio during a drive to Scotland and, though I'd grown up rooting for the Achaens, wept unashamedely at the pity of Troy's destruction.