Saturday, 8 February 2014
Many are wonders and none more wondrous
Than man with skill to cross the ocean,
Harnessing the gales and driving
A path through storm-grey seas that threaten
From all sides to engulf him. Earth,
The mother of the gods, and inexhaustible,
He furrows with his ploughs drawn by young colts
To and fro, year on year, engraved with lines.
The whistling race of birds, and tribes
Of wild life, and fish harvested,
He snares in nets he wove, so cunning is he.
And through his craft he masters that fierce beast
The lion roaming in the hills and forests.
He puts the halter round the horse's neck
And rings the nostrils of the angry bull.
Words and quick thought and how to rule the city
He's taught himself: and to take refuge from
The icy arrows of the rain and hail.
He has devices to meet all occasions.
With many ruses that can trick diseases,
Only against death he fights in vain.
Ingenious beyond dreams, his diverse skills
Lead sometimes towards good, sometimes bad, ends.
When he obeys the law and honours justice,
His obligation to the gods, the city
Can lift its head in pride: but he who sins
Makes himself of no city citizen
Nor shall he share my home nor share my thought.
ANTIGONE | Sophocles | Stephen Spender | 1983