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The Spike [or Victoria University College Review 1961]

Penelope's Song

page 107

Penelope's Song

'... You must talk a well-cut oar and go on till ...'

Book XI

When I was a girl my mind did wander
Over the hills and valleys of foam
Beyond the islands that held no wonder
To the lands where my husband felt at home.

Beyond the edge of the merchants sea-ways
Beyond the fields the farmers have sown
Beyond all thought of village byways
To lands no one but my husband has known.

For he came back from the ends of the earth
He came back to our hearts delight
He came back and with blow and curse
Set our own house to right.

He came back to our joy and our sorrow
He came back and told his tales
He came back his fields to harrow
But also to mend his long-ship's sails.

No longer a girl my mind will not wander
Over the hills and valleys of the sea
I am captured, imprisoned, by something far stronger
The thought that he never will come back to me.

'In the blackness of the tenth night the gods washed me ashore on Ogygia, the home of Calypso, the goddes with the beautiful locks. . .'

Book XII

Indomitable soul! Where do we go from here?
I give her the old one two — Bit of flattery, make
it sound a bit old-fashioned, chivalry and all that, rake
in Helen for love interest, hint at some reason to fear
a god's animosity, work up a useful bit of sympathy via
tales of privations and what not yet keeping it poetical, slake
her thirst for someone to pity, the old Othello stuff, then take
courage in both hands and appeal for help. The mere
reciting should be enough to win a maiden's heart. But
what do we get? 'Was the weather fine at Ilium? My mother
said it always blew?'Would I like a cup of wine? What damn
fool game is she playing? She seems to have got into a rut
and a maiden-aunt-ish one at that with no men around or other. . .
Why I do believe she's just as scared as I am!

Llewellyn Richards