Quests Dannie Abse

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Quests Key: defined overleaf Repetition To reach the other world some sought hemlock
in waste spaces: umbels of that small white flower
still sway at eye-level when the eye is still;

and some, at broad sunset, walked the sea-shore
or prayed for their messiah in a darkening house.
But Gods had human faces and were flawed.

When prying Apion, with eerie conch,
summoned Homer’s spirit to ask where he was born
whose bloody head appeared above the parapet?

Now at Cardiff, in its shut museum,
A sculptured satyr on a sculptured sea-horse
blows only silent zeros through his horn.

And here in Ogmore, more abundant silence.
Awesome over the sea, from which no sulking Proteus
will rise, the candled stars, the unblinking moon.

Who know? Not me. Secular, I’ll never hear
the spheres, their perfect orchestra, or below,
with joy, old Triton playing out of tune.

Hemlock- a poisonous plant (small white flower)
Apion- (20s BC - c. 45-48 AD), a Graeco-Egyptian grammarian, sophist and commentator on Homer. Conch- tropical sea animal with shell/large spiral shell
Homer- the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest of ancient Greek epic poets. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature. Satyr- half-man, half-goat/ man displaying inappropriate sexual behavior Proteus- an early sea-god from Greek mythology, one of several deities whom Homer calls the "Old Man of the Sea". Some who ascribe to him a specific domain call him the god of "elusive sea change," which suggests the constantly changing nature of the sea or the liquid quality of water in general Spheres- from Dante’s Paradiso, an allegory telling of Dante’s journey through Heaven. Paradise is depicted as a series of spheres surrounding the Earth consisting of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Fixed Stars,...
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