Process Notes on 1.15

See West’s Notes at:  West, D. Horace Odes I Carpe Diem: Test, Translation and Commentary, Oxford: Clarendon Press, (1995), pp.72-77

According to West, ‘This ode purports to give the prophecy delivered to Paris on the voyage by the sea-god Nereus.  The language of prophecies is often obscure and portentous and that is why Horace begins this poem with such an awkward first stanza.[1]  In Horace’s poem it is Paris who drags Helen off across the sea and of course the result is the Trojan War.

‘The voice of the prophet is heard again in the last stanza again with characteristic obscurity.  How could Paris have begun to understand that the fleet of Archilles would postpone the doom of Troy?  He could not at this moment have had any notion that Achilles would weaken the Greek armies by retiring in high dudgeon to his tent and thus postpone the fall of Troy’.[2] 

‘The central bulk of our poem is a meditation on one aspect of the Iliad-the abduction of Helen by Paris, its baneful effects upon his own people and also the Greeks, the fearful armoury of the goddess of war, the impotence of the goddess of love, the uselessness of Paris’s carefully groomed hair and prettily scored music… and his vain attempts to avoid the horrors of battle.  Then, after a muster of the formidable enemies who are hunting him down, the prophecy ends with an image of cowardice.’[3]

Here I try to pick up the original context with its sea language, hence the ‘slamming decks ’ to suggest both the deck of a ship and the slamming (i.e. music) decks.  I try to create the feeling of a storm brewing as the DJ slowly begins to realise that he is alienating both sides.  –  also building up towards war. The ‘wolf’ reference in the original is represented by the phrase ‘loping off’’ and ‘watering-hole’ has both a human and animal meaning.  As in the original, my poem has an image of cowardice/failure with the DJ running off to a safe watering-hole..

The main point of mine is a meditation on the ‘abduction’ of a poet into the world of slam/ hip-hop/pop which results in both sides being ‘at war’ both with each other and with themselves Although I do not use antonomasia (as in the original); my ‘Maker of Performance Poets’ is not one particular individual, but rather a ‘type’ which I would hope readers (especially poets who have been dragged into such performance poetry from time to time), will recognise. My prophecy tries to point out that when new technology gets hold of poetry, things will be even worse, thus predicting what is likely to happen next, just as in the original.


[1] D. West, Horace Odes I Carpe Diem: Text, Translation and Commentary, Oxford:  Clarendon Press,
   1995,  72

[2] Ibid 75

[3] Ibid 76/7


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