Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Book 8

I was struck by the horses in Book 8.

“And the Seasons touched the beautiful manes of the horses,
unyoked and tethered them at their celestial stalls,
and leaned the chariot against the bright wall of the courtyard.”
(8.391-393)

“A thousand watch fires were burning upon the plain,
and around each, fifty men sat in the glow of the firelight,
and the horses stood alongside the chariots, munching
white barley and oats, and waited for dawn to arise.”
(8.494-496)

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2 thoughts on “Book 8

  1. Those are both lovely, and, as you say, striking. I’m having trouble with the first passage. Does it refer to the passing of seasons, using the horses and chariot as a metaphor? Or is it, still couched in metaphor, describing the aging and death of the horses? My thinking at this moment (and this is based on my reaction to rereading what I’ve written above, not the original passage) is that it’s the former.

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  2. In trying to figure out the answer to your question, I looked to see whether older versions might be of help.

    Here’s the first passage in the Samuel Butler version:

    “the Hours presently unyoked them, made
    them fast to their ambrosial mangers, and leaned the chariot
    against the end wall of the courtyard.”

    A little earlier in the same version we read:

    “…the gates of heaven bellowed as they flew open of their own accord- gates over which the Hours preside”

    The above is absent in the Mitchell version. Not sure why though.

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