Homers Odyssey | Chapter 9 of 54

Author: Homer | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 889581 Views | Add a Review

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PENELOPE’S BED-CHAMBER

 

Penelope half-sings, half-hums the final verse of Phemios’ Song of Troy.

 

EURYCLEIA

Come back from the window, my lady. There’s a chill wind tonight.

 

PENELOPE

My son stands on the beach.

 

EURYCLEIA

Looking for signs of his father. Hopeful to the last.

 

PENELOPE

Two sets of footprints on the sand,

but he stands alone.

 

EURYCLEIA

He’ll be pacing up and down. That’s what I do when I’m nervous.

 

PENELOPE

And the wind blows the wrong way

for this time of night, away from the shore.

 

EURYCLEIA

It’s a chill wind all right. Straight off the mountains.

Come away from the window now and take this cloak.

 

PENELOPE

Do you hear what those young men say about me?

 

EURYCLEIA

Take no notice. 

 

PENELOPE

That I’m carved from ice.

 

EURYCLEIA

From standing at that window in a chill wind.

 

PENELOPE

That I give them knowing looks, feed them with hope.

 

EURYCLEIA

What do they know about a woman’s face?

 

PENELOPE

That I’m the one making the situation worse.

 

EURYCLEIA

It’s the drink in them that talks. They’re loud-mouths,

and louder still with a jar of wine in their gut.

 

PENELOPE

It’s true, though, isn’t it?

 

EURYCLEIA

What’s true?

 

PENELOPE

That I’m the corn that keeps the locusts fed.

 

EURYCLEIA

Don’t torture yourself.

 

PENELOPE

But I’m right, aren’t I?

 

EURYCLEIA

I’m a brusher of hair and a hanger of clothes – I’m not paid for my wit.

 

PENELOPE

Yes, it’s unfair of me …

 

EURYCLEIA

But since you’re asking, I’ll tell you how it is.

You live like a widow, with no man at your side,

and you’ve lived like that for nigh on twenty years.

Until you bury Odysseus, you’re still his wife.

It pays to be cold on the outside

with that lot down there drooling at your feet

and sniffing under the bedroom door.

But I know you. I’ve known you for donkey’s years,

and there’s a flame somewhere inside, right?

In your heart, I shouldn’t wonder, and it won’t go out.

 

PENELOPE

Shouldn’t I snuff it dead, for everyone’s sake?

 

EURYCLEIA

No one can change what’s in their own heart.

Not even a queen. And that’s as much as I know on the topic.

 

PENELOPE

Maybe he’s found a better pillow for his head,

next to a younger woman with silkier flesh.

 

EURYCLEIA

She’d have to be made from silk itself to have skin any silkier than yours.

I’ve known some skin in my time and yours is the silkiest of the lot.

There’s skin and there’s skin, and let me tell you, yours is pure silk.

 

PENELOPE

You underestimate your powers of argument.

You should sit in the council of the wise.

 

EURYCLEIA

Why, do they need a brusher of hair?

Now, don’t be going to that window again, it’s a chill wind

from the mountain. You’ll get a ghost in your lungs.

And if that’s everything I’ll say goodnight.

 

Eurycleia leaves.

PENELOPE

Would that be so bad?

To end it, inhale a cold death?

 

She breathes deeply.

To join my husband on the other side,

is that what the Gods have in mind?

 

Comments

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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