Posted by: Kate | February 1, 2011

Bloggers’ Silent Poetry Reading

Allotrias diai Gynaikos (For the Sake of Another Man’s Wife): Agamemnon 437-451

by Frank Thompson

Between the dartboard and the empty fireplace
They are talking of the boys the village has lost;
Tom, our best bowler all last season,
Died, clean and swift when his plane went reeling;
Bill, who drank beer and laughed, is now asleep
Behind Dunkirk, helped others to escape;
And Dave went down on an aircraft carrier,
Dave, whom nobody minded,
But who played the flute rather well, I remember.
“These boys died bravely. We’ll always be proud of them,
They’ve given old Adolph something to set him thinking.”
That was the loudest, the driving wave of opinion.
But in the corners hear the eddies singing —
“For the sake of another man’s wife.”
They died in a war of others’ making.
“Helen the Fair went over the water
With Paris your friend, one of your own gang,
Whom we never trusted, but you feasted
For years with fawning, let your lands go hang.
We warned you. You could have stopped it…
But now we have sent our sons from the cornfields.”
War, like a grocer, weighs and sends us back
Ashes for men, and all our year goes black.
“Yes. They died well, but not to suit your purposes;
Not so that you could go hunting with two horses,
While their sons touched their caps, opening gates for pennies.
Perhaps we shall take a hand, write our own ending.”
One growls this beneath his breath.
Soft, but the Titan heard it waking.


Discovered as a poem quoted in Disturbing the Universe, by Freeman Dyson.

Posted for the Annual Brigid Poetry Festival.



  1. That’s beautiful, Kate.

  2. Powerful words.

Welcome! I always like to hear what people think of a post, it often leads to a great discussion! I am now responding to comments and questions right in the comments themselves, so other people can follow the conversation.

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