Tuesday, December 1, 2009


My very good friends lost their son this weekend. It was a gruesome and senseless death.

The Shield of Achilles

by W. H. Auden

      She looked over his shoulder
            For athletes at their games,
      Men and women in a dance
            Moving their sweet limbs
      Quick, quick, to music,
            But there on the shining shield
      His hands had set no dancing-floor
            But a weed-choked field.

A ragged urchin, aimless and alone,
      Loitered about that vacancy; a bird
Flew up to safety from his well-aimed stone:
      That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
      Were axioms to him, who'd never heard
Of any world where promises were kept,
Or one could weep because another wept.

      The thin-lipped armorer,
            Hephaestos, hobbled away,
      Thetis of the shining breasts
            Cried out in dismay
      At what the god had wrought
            To please her son, the strong
      Iron-hearted man-slaying Achilles
            Who would not live long.

Full poem here.