Do you think I talk too much?
Maybe. Wouldn’t you, confronted
with all these golden boys, who
chatter on about honor, and glory
that will live forever, all the while
forgetting the names of those
who came before, forgetting that I too
contended with gods, that before
I was gray, I was golden,
as they are golden now?
Fame unwithering! These boys –
they are all boys, in their father’s gear –
do not know what it is to wither,
will not, until they feel it in their bones.
Has Achilles ever known that he must move
and had his body disobey him,
even in the smallest of things?
Does Agamemnon know what it is to totter
on legs that hardly carry him;
or has Odysseus’ tongue ever deserted him?
Whose glory does Achilles sing,
in his cold tent, by that cold sea?
Not mine, though I walked once
with heroes, and was counted
among their number. Not mine,
though the men I lived among
were stronger than these men.
Who will sing Achilles’ fame
when he is, as I am, old?