Thursday, August 23, 2012

Daryl Hine 1936-2012

Keith calls our attention to the death of Daryl Hine three days ago. He also recently brought my attention to Hine's poem "Patroclus Putting on the Armour of Achilles". None of us perhaps can feel nothing special about Patroclus and Achilles (no matter how much David Halperin we read). This poem seems peculiarly severe on Patroclus, but I find it very engaging and the last line spot on.

How clumsy he is putting on the amour of another,
His friend’s, perhaps remembering how they used to arm each other
Fitting the metal tunics to one another’s breast
And setting on each other’s head the helmet’s bristling crest.
Now for himself illicitly he foolishly performs
Secret ceremonial with that other’s arms,
Borrowed, I say stolen, for they are not his own,
On the afternoon of battle, late, trembling, and alone.

Night terminal to fighting falls on the playing field
As to his arm he fastens the giant daedal shield.
A while the game continues, a little while the host
Lost on the obscure litoral, scattered and almost
Invisible pursue the endless war with words
Jarring in the darkening air impassable to swords.

But when he steps forth from the tent where Achilles broods
Patroclus finds no foe at hand, surrounded by no gods,
Only the chill of evening strikes him to the bone
Like an arrow piercing where the armour fails to join,
And weakens his knees under the highly polished greaves.
Evening gentle elsewhere is loud on the shore, it grieves
It would seem for the deaths of heroes, their disobedient graves.


DCSteve1441 said...

Thanks to Keith for sharing this sad news and to Tim for posting this lovely tribute.

I know it's mere coincidence that we read his poetry just days before his death, but I still like to think that in some cosmic, ineffable way, our appreciative comments pronounced a sort of valedictory orison to ease his passage.

RIP, Daryl.


Tim said...

It's a rather large overlay on Homer I think but what gives this poem its daring and disturbing quality — that undercurrent of locker-room transvestitism. It comes to me with further readings and with my first reading of Hine's memoir of his own seventh-grade experience.