Friday, November 07, 2008

The Wreck of Odysseus' Ship: A Song About Homer's Odyssey

These lyrics remind us of the folly of Odysseus' silly crew and their willingness to eat anything that wasn't nailed down, including the cows of the sun god, which they had been specifically told not to eat. The song is sung to the tune of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot. If you don't have this song on CD, go to Project Playlist and search for it, then add it to your playlist and listen to it whenever you like!

The legend lives on from the Athenians on down
Of the big sea they call the Aegean
The sea, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the face of Poseidon is seething.

Odysseus set out with his faithful old crew
From the war with the Trojans they’d beaten
Those bright ships and the crew were just bones to be chewed
By the gales and the gods and the seasons

Odysseus was the pride of the Ithacan isle
Where his wife and his son were there waiting
and all through the years of Odysseus’ exile
One hundred young suitors placating.

They raided the island of Ismaros
And left all the villagers reeling
And later that night when the ships bell rang
Could it be the West Wind they'd been feeling.

They resisted the lotus and poked the Cyclops
but opened the bag from Aeolus.
Lost all but one ship to Laestrygonian chops
but handled witch Circe with boldness.

They fought through the dangers to follow their vows
when they came to Thranacia island
And there on the green were the sun god’s cows
From their nice sunny pasture they beckoned.

Does anyone know why they ate those cows?
Why they couldn’t just leave them there grazing?
Eating goat meat would not have made Helios mad
Yet they ate beef — is that not amazing?

The wind in the sails made a tattletale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as Odysseus did, too,
T'was Poseidon’s waters come stealing.

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
With the Mediterranean slashing
When afternoon came it was freezing rain
In the face of old Zeus’ fierce lashing

Odysseus sighed and he nearly died
For the good ship and crew was in peril
The rest of the crew must have sunk with the ship
Wishing they’d eaten something more feral.

1 comment:

  1. great lyrics! I love Gordon Lightfoot. Great picture of the trireme, too.