Priam

1.

Take, for example, your age.
Do you, in truth, know
thirty today?
It was but yesterday
Hekuba lay. . .

. . . For half
a thousand years
we held
this royal citadel. Free
from Akaean, from Hittite,
free to the wind,
for our horses,
envy of the world.
But what men envy
they would possess. You
have handed them a cause.

Hers is a face,
but a queen’s face.
And that queen kin to the Lion
King himself. Agamemnon sings
your name in his privy:
Paris smooth-tongued
turned to Atreid greed
by a face.

No. Hear.
I am done.
It is late. You
cannot take her back.
You cannot flee.
Honor here. Policy there.
Fate everywhere.

We who built
these walls secure
against Time itself,
now must wait the justice of God,
a mercy of swords,
shrieks of women.
the grief of men,
a bard.

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Priam

2.

All
will come
to black vultures.
Pride alone remains.

Eighty
springs my heart recalls.
Eighty
winters hound my feet.
No more.
Let blue Akaeans feed upon my flesh.
Let my house go down to ruin.
Let me go,
not like a goat dragged to slaughter,
but the horse to sacrifice,
consenting.

Give me your arm,
for a time.
Leaning,
I can stand to gaze
across the bay.

There. To the west.
Are those clouds,
do you think,
or sails?