U. S. Dhuga

Ode to Man, and Ode to Eros



Astonishing are many things,
But none more so than man!
Man traverses grey seas
Upon south-storming winter winds,
Faring forward beneath eddies
As they siege him round;
Man breaks the oldest, highest of gods—
Earth: she undying, she unbreakable—
Man plies her up with ploughs, this way and that way,
Year upon year,
With harnessed mule.

Man, cunning man—plucks out tribes
Of unthinking birds,
Of wild beasts,
Of sea-dwelling creatures,
Plucks them in twisted twines of tight-knot nets.
Man conquers mountain-roaming beasts with guile,
Subdues wild horses,
And brings beneath the yoke
Unbreakable mountain-dwelling bulls.
Words, wind-wisped wondering,
And governance—these, too, man knows:
Man taught himself to flee exposed hills
Where he could not safely dwell,
To flee the arrow-showers—man, all-skilled:
Nothing that faces man
Can man not face without skill.
But from Hell alone will man not craft escape—
And yet, man has conjured flight from deathly ills.

Man, possessed of cunning beyond all expectations,
Rushes headlong now to evil,
Now to greatness.
Esteemed in the city is he who reveres
The laws of the land and the promised justice
Of the gods; exiled, he, who flirts with evil
Because of his audacity.
Would that he who does these deeds
Neither be beside me
Nor an equal in my heart!



Love, undefeated in battle,
Love, who descends upon herds,
Who on the pillow-cheeks
Of a maiden sleeps;
Love, sea-traversing, you roam
The wild among shanty-dwellers:
You, Love, no immortal can flee
Nor man who bleeds:
Holding you one is insane.

You pluck the thoughts of just men
Toward injustice, wreaking havoc.
You, having whisked this blood-sharing
Filial feud of men, you behold it.
Victorious is the longing desire
Of the bride's eyes,
Desire which holds its seat among the ancient v Of laws. For undefeated in her workings
Is the godhead Aphrodite.

U. S. DHUGA earned his PhD in Classics at Columbia University in 2006, and is presently a professor of Classics at Calvin College. He is the author of Choral Identity and the Chorus of Elders in Greek Tragedy, published through Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies in the series Greek Studies: Interdisciplinary Approaches. Dhuga's poetry, classical music criticism, and opera criticism have appeared in Arion, Parnassus, The Hudson Review, The New Criterion, The New Yorker, and the anthology The Greek Poets: Homer to the Present (Norton, 2010). Recipient of the 2004 Morton Marr Poetry Prize from Southwest Review, Dhuga founded The Battersea Review in 2012.