I am truly enjoying being a part of an amazing MFA program. It’s fully online, and my professors are nothing short of incredible! I am new to the world of poetry (shame, I know!), but I am learning how amazing it truly is! Here was a fun assignment from Homer’s Odyssey where we had to take a specific scene and write it from our own perspective. Lord knows I can’t touch Homer, but I had a great time dipping my hand in his work. This is based on Book V. The explanation is below.
The blessings of Kalypso sent Odysseus on his way.
He drifted slowly, steadily, suspended on the waves of the sapphire sea,
when Poseidon’s harvest of evils sought him out with the forcefulness of the breath of the world’s four winds.
Grand in their task, they rattled his vessel to its core.
North to South, East to West, brothers in his demise. They blew him one to another
like a plaything meant for children’s hands. The blue of the sky just a memory, the salty sea now with its waters of black
begged for him, darkened like Hades for which he grieved, for which he knew he should not have forsaken in Troy.
Now, lost in the world of waves that pressed against the endless and darkening horizon, he would be no more, swallowed whole in the belly of this sea.
Is this truly to be the end? Would he ever stroke the face of his wife again, hear her tender words whisper him to slumber. Would he ever again reach for her warm hand and hold it to his mouth, smell the lavender of her skin, tuck away the tendrils of her hair?
For this he mourned more than for his own life, though his body begged for the mercy of death while the scratch of salt slid down his throat and bloated his lungs with a burning fire.
But then hope.
Beautiful, true, goddess, angel, savior, friend of mortal.
Her pity found Odysseus at his greatest of pleas. He clung to his raft until it held him no more, the wood and the binding, the mast, gone. Clothed in magic bestowed by Leukothea, he found the shore, fought to touch the soft soil, clawed at life with will, with spirit, with fight.
Odysseus climbed into a bed of peaceful leaves, wrapping himself in slumber, fighting to forget.
This short story is based on Book V, Odysseus’s departure from a nymph named Kalypso, who has held him captive with her for seven years. Zeus orders her to let him go. The gods always have something tricky going on, so of course, Odysseus has his doubts, but he doesn’t hesitate. Kalypso helps him with tools and sustenance to make his voyage, giving him one last chance to stay with her at his own free will, even offering him immortality, but he’s desperate to leave to get home to his wife and country. In the spirit of mischief, Poseidon, just for kicks, cooks up a storm that almost steals Odysseus’s life. But Leukothea, a former mortal now an immortal, saves him and helps him get to the safety of Scheria.
This scene fits perfectly in Homer’s work thematically in that Homer paints a beautiful journey picture. It’s full of hardships and character, and the evolution of an epic hero, in this case, a man named Odysseus, who is growing into who he is meant to be for his grand arrival. Dramatically, on this journey, we have a man on a mission, with all odds against him. Our hero has battled with man, god and nature. Between battling his wife’s suitors, battling pesky and tampering gods who either love him too much for his own good, or dislike him, and clinging to life at the mercy of nature and the elements, Odysseus is a fighter. He wants to survive. Book V is a clear example of having the gods in your favor and having them at odds with you all at the same time. He overcomes one hurdle, getting released by Kalypso at last, to being tormented and almost killed by Poseidon’s mischief, to finding favor with Leukothea. There is no lack of drama here. Each battle that he overcomes, builds and strengthens him into who he is meant to be. He is emotionally, intellectually, and physically, perfect. Aesthetically, this story is just a beautiful depiction of man fighting for a dream, fighting to survive. There is beauty in the heroism, the journey, and the language.