A Poem Torn in Half

Archilochus
Translated from the Greek by Dan Beachy-Quick

the surrounding smoke they made[in warships, spear-shafts d[men are tearing, and he wilts[in the sunlight, courage and[great longing for[of Naxians able to f[of trees cut sharp down[men hold back[this would for all soldiers m[as in the past without anger[and of brothers[of whom they cut off[beat down beneath plague-like blows[these things in my soul, my thinking heart[abysmal deep]but all the same dead[knows now, if you[of words who is destined[some men in Thasos[and Torone[some men in swift ships[and from Paros t[and of the same mother born[soul, heart, but[fire now all around[in the suburbs k[they ever-scorch the earth[violent men overrun[readying for the road[nothing lucky, nothing on the right[

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Archilochus (7th c. BCE) was banned from Sparta for writing verses that could corrupt children, not only for his poem of running away from a battle, but for the biting cruelty that marks his poems—so extreme, according to legend, that a poem written in revenge for a broken engagement resulted in the suicides of his fiancé, her sisters, and her father.

photo of Dan Beachy-Quick

Dan Beachy-Quick is a poet, essayist, and translator. His most recent books include Arrows (Tupelo Press) and Stone-Garland (Milkweed Editions), a collection of translations from the ancient Greek. Recently long-listed for the National Book Award in Poetry, his work has been supported by the Monfort, Lannan, and Guggenheim Foundations. He teaches at Colorado State University, where he is a University Distinguished Teaching Scholar.

"As part of the publisher's 'Seedbank' series, aiming to preserve endangered literatures, the poet Beachy-Quick offers a modern gloss on six ancient Greeks."
New York Times Book Review, "New & Noteworthy Poetry"

"Sixth-century BCE Greek lyric poets Alcman, Theognis, Simonides, Anacreon/Anacreonata, Archilochus, and Callimachus are beautifully translated by Beachy-Quick in this memorable and edifying collection, which presents excavated fragments meant to be sung or recited to music . . . This skillfully achieved collection is a necessary contribution to ancient translation."
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

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