Odysseus to Telemachus

Joseph Brodsky

 
My dear Telemachus,
                   The Trojan War
is over now; I don't recall who won it.
The Greeks, no doubt, for only they would leave
so many dead so far from their own homeland.
But still, my homeward way has proved too long.
While we were wasting time there, old Poseidon,
it almost seems, stretched and extended space.
I don't know where I am or what this place
can be. It would appear some filthy island,
with bushes, buildings, and great grunting pigs.
A garden choked with weeds; some queen or other.
Grass and huge stones . . . Telemachus, my son!
To a wanderer the faces of all islands
resemble one another. And the mind
trips, numbering waves; eyes, sore from sea horizons,
run; and the flesh of water stuffs the ears.
I can't remember how the war came out;
even how old you are--I can't remember.
Grow up, then, my Telemachus, grow strong.
Only the gods know if we'll see each other
again. You've long since ceased to be that babe
before whom I reined in the plowing bullocks.
Had it not been for Palamedes' trick
we two would still be living in one household.
But maybe he was right; away from me
you are quite safe from all Oedipal passions,
and your dreams, my Telemachus, are blameless.
 
From A Part of Speech by Joseph Brodsky. Translation copyright © 1980 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc.

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Poems by This Author

A Part of Speech [As for the stars they are always on] by Joseph Brodsky
A Season by Joseph Brodsky
Polar Explorer by Joseph Brodsky


Further Reading

Poems About Sons
A Boy and His Dad
by Edgar Guest
Another Country
by Ryan Teitman
Come Up From the Fields Father
by Walt Whitman
Epigrams: On my First Son
by Ben Jonson
Fishing in Winter
by Ralph Burns
Goodnight Moon
by James Arthur
Like Him
by Aaron Smith
On My First Son
by Ben Jonson
The Bee
by James Dickey
With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach
by William Stafford
Yesterday
by W. S. Merwin