Maximilian Hildebrand

Kylix Poems:
Illiupersis Cup

Illiupersis Cup (Attributed to the Brygos Painter, 480BC)

Illiupersos Cup
Are the Atreidae of all mortal men
the only ones who love their wives? I think not.
Every sane decent fellow loves his own
and cares for her, as in my heart I loved
Briseis, though I won her by the spear.
(Homer. Iliad, 9.334–34)

In this madness                                                I am waiting,
watching the horizon                                        ferry in soldiers for another gloomy
mass of war. Or perhaps, just perhaps,         the dismantling of siege weapons,
the removal of hinges                                       from vast gates of antinomy,
the troops laying down their swords              and retreating
to leave this betrayed field empty                  except for two champions
hesitant to face each other                               across salient and gorge,
the weeping dead our cowardice has forged.

In my tent a single wasp                                  devours the galaxies of words
I never sent you, regurgitating them             as pulp against the chambers
of my heart.                                                        Soon her nest will be complete,
and from her queen's throne                            she will send out hordes
of mute indulgent daughters                            who will beat out embers
of love beneath dry papyrus, which I am now forbidden to expiate.