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~ Achilles, Too, Was Samurai | by Mackeson
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~ Achilles, Too, Was Samurai

they're numbers now,

our battlefield dead, our samurai,

no longer names;


no honor rolls,

no more moments of silence,

no hue and cry

except that now heard on foreign soil;


"the ultimate sacrifice,"

& all the other well-worn phrases

spoken by small-minded men

with big ambitions

taking up the mantel

of the rich and powerful

unwilling even to pay a little more

in the way of taxes

to support the undertaking,

wanting instead

to hew it from the scant benefits

of those just getting by,


yet, all this is nothing new,

Achilles, too, himself, half-immortal,

was samurai:


"for thankless Greece such hardships have i braved,

her wives, her infants, by my labours saved;

long sleepless nights in heavy arms i stood,

and sweat laborious days in dust and blood.

i sack’d twelve ample cities on the main,

and twelve lay smoking on the Trojan plain:

then at Atrides’ haughty feet were laid

the wealth i gathered, and the spoils i made.

your mighty monarch these in peace possess’d;

some few my soldiers had, himself the rest.

some present, too, to every prince was paid;

and every prince enjoys the gift he made:

i only must refund, of all his train;

see what pre-eminence our merits gain!"


Book 9, The Iliad of Homer

(Alexander Pope translation)

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Taken on May 18, 2011