SIXTEEN OCCASIONAL POEMS
– AGAMEMNON’S RETURN
Poem: Alasdair Gray © 2005
a thousand ships to war on
but cannot set sail
before Gods send a westerly gale.
“The cost of the wind you need,” says a priest,
“is your daughter’s blood.”
Agamemnon thinks twice
about ordering that sacrifice
but orders it all the same.
God’s weather, not he, is to blame.
The ninety thousand men he demanded
though idle, need feeding and pay.
If the calm lasts and funds run out
they’ll depose him, if not disbanded.
bleeds. Gale blows. Fleet sails. King conquers
and homes to wife. Her joy is a pretence:
she loved her daughter more than military offence.
“Come in dear. Have a bath. The water’s hot.”
He strips. The robe flung around him is a net.
Out steps her lover, sword in hand.
king is soon very wet.