Hyllus and the Charioteer

Another in my series of poems in the manner of the Greek poet Anakreon. It really takes place in Providence, but that's another story.

Anakreon, to Hyllus:
Last night I followed you, to the foot
of your street, to that Dionysian ruin
where men and youths commingle 'mid
broken columns and pedestals.
I saw you, "virgin” Hyllus
in quadruped surrender
to a popular chariot driver.

I watched and heard it all
from the anonymous shadows:
the brutal, pathetic beauty of it,
the animal moans,
the false starts,
the invoking of gods,
the simultaneous gasps,
the hurried redress of tunic and belt,
the counting out of three small coins,

I almost laughed at how, departing,
you brushed aside my friend Harmodius
with that most wonderful line:
"Only the hand that has held a whip
can ever hold mine!”

Small wonder that I have never possessed you,
slave as I am of scribbling,
more fond of vowels than hard-edged consonants,
my only rod the stylus. How strange
when beauty seeks not its merited worship,
leaving its pedestal for the dust,
kneeling for the promise of certain pain
and its negotiated, small price.


  1. Why are there no comments here? Excellent verses! Thought I was reading a translation from the Greek Anthology. Splendid mood and subject and treatment; thank you for posting this!

    Bill Naquin


Post a Comment

Popular Posts