sexta-feira, 30 de agosto de 2013

SEAMUS HEANEY | 1939-2013

Testimony: The Ajax Incident
(adapted from Sophocles)

Lamps had gone out, the late sentries dozed,
When something just came over him.
He rose And rigged for action, lifted down
His two-edged slashing sword, a bedside weapon
He kept like a second bedmate, then slipped outside
Far more nimbly than you’d have expected
For a man his size, with that night-mirroring
Blade in hand, aloft. Anything
I said meant nothing to him, mere
Wife-babble, ignored the same as ever,
Even though this time there was no attack
Being sounded, no command.

Then he was back,
In through the tent door like a conquering drover
With his captives on a rope: bull calf, heifer,
Milk cows, rams and ewes, the very sheepdogs.
How long he’d rampaged through their pens and paddocks
Or why he was herding them I couldn’t tell
Until the butchering started. I can still
Hear the slosh of innards, piss and muck.
Some he beheaded with a single stroke
Down through the neck bone, some he wrestled flat,
Legs and belly up, and cut their throats,
For all the spurted dung and kicks and horn-toss.
Some that he tied and tortured like prisoners
Slit by slit, hamstring and lip and ear,
Just bled to death, hoofs beating at a chair.

At last there came a lull, then a tirade
Against those chiefs he thought he’d left for dead
On the floor behind him, once comrades, men of honour,
But now reviled; he stood by the tent door
Bellowing hate and havoc and their names.
Then, bloody-spoored and raving, in he comes,
Returning to his senses bit by bit,
And starts to butt the tent-pole, going quiet
As he climbs and slips and struggles through a mess
Of entrails splattered and opened carcasses.
And so for a long while he just lay there dumb,
Dragging his nails and fingers for a comb
Through his slathered hair, breathing like a beast
Slack-mouthed and winded. But came round at last,
Risen off all fours to overbear,
Turning on me to explain the massacre,
So I told him what I think he knew he’d done.

Then Ajax raised his voice in lamentation,
At bay now and in disproof of his rule
That warriors didn’t weep, they weren’t old women –
But soon his head-back, harrowing wail
Turned to the long deep moaning of a bull.

Slumped, slow motioned, he is in there still,
Ensconced on a pile of slaughtered meat and offal,
Lowing to himself. Something gathers head
And is going to happen. We must pay him heed.
Nothing is over, only overdue.
A friend should go to him. One, friends, of you.