~ 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,
to hew it from the scant benefits
of those just getting by,
yet, all this is nothing new,
Achilles, too, himself, half-immortal,
"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)