Books and Movies Reviews

Shield of Achilles by Auden

The poem thematically is quite similar to Elite’s Mastheads” in its depiction of a world devoid of principles and ethics, that in its march for success has lost the true meaning as echoed in phrases like “an unintelligible multitude”, “column by column in a cloud of dust”. Etc. The Homeric myth is rendered into an allegory tooth contemporary times. A conceptual construct drives us from myth to reality, where reality is supposed to demystify myths. It is Addend’s disgust at the totalitarian regime of the modern world where the individual is relegated. The Chilean world serves as his mouthpiece to comment on the stagnation of he Modern world.

Thesis, the mother of Achilles looks at the shield of Achilles that was hanging over his shoulder, Achilles is the celebrated Greek warrior of the Trojan War. The shield at once acts as an emblem of art, and a historian, in that it reflects the civilization of a certain time. It was specially made for Achilles by Happiest, the blacksmith of the Gods The mother searches for: For vines and olive trees, Marble well-governed cities And ships upon untamed seas, But there on the shining metal His hands had put instead An artificial wilderness And a sky like lead. It reflects the hollowness and futility of a life that verges on nothingness.

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The word artificial points to the superficiality of this sort of life. The sky like ‘lead’ echoes the metallic, frigid and cold human behavior. The plain is without any feature, it has no individuality. There is no blade of grass-no vegetation and therefore it is barren. No sign of neighborhood-no communion. In an era of competition, people have a shortage for the basic amenities of living. What foregrounds the background to Thesis is a multitude of soldiers. The soldiers waits for the command of their leader. They are an “unintelligible multitude” just like a herd to cattle no ability to rationally think or speculate.

They are “without expression”: without the power to communicate, The modern life is one that is based on logic and reasoning. It is characterized by lack of sentiment. Just as the tone was ‘dry and level’. The issue for war was not discussed with the multitude- it was an authoritarian assessment. Statistics was enough to prove that the cause was just. The face ordering the same is not visible either, he has no identity, is a construct by himself. The line: “No one was cheered and nothing was discussed” echoes Tennyson ‘The Charge Of the Light Brigade”: Theirs not to make a reply Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die.

Thesis searched the shield for scenes of Greek life as depicted on Keats’ Grecian urn. The phrase ‘White flower garlanded heifer” echoes the same. The term ‘ritual pities’ reflects the same. The ‘libation’ refers to the pouring fourth of wine in honor of a God. In their flickering forge-light, in the dim light of the blacksmith’s workshop, she observes yet another scene. The scene is of a concentration camp where prisoners of war are kept. Officers cracked jokes to while away the time. The enemy soldiers amidst of such callousness are captured and tied to three stakes and killed.

The irreverence of the picture, is a reminder of the crucifixion of Christ filled with overwhelming reverence. The modern society with the loss to religious conviction is juxtaposed against an act that is emblematic to the redemption of mankind. The image depicted here is a travesty of Chrism’s ordeal. The claustrophobia of confinement and enslavement is retorted to in the line: “Barbed wire enclosed an arbitrary spot,” The people of the world are cheated by the so-called commander into the logic of their reason. Little did the common people comprehend that though they were small in comparison, nothing could be done without their acceptance.

They could not hope for help, and therefore no help came. Nevertheless, redemption lay in their own hands. They die before their bodies, as their self-respect is crushed under the totalitarian forces. She looks for athletes at their games, and men and women in dance rhythmically swaying their limbs to the beat of the music. But in the reflective shield that he held there was no such ‘healthy’ images, but only those Of decay and decomposition-“a weed-choked field”. What one is finally left with is aimless, impulsive peoples out o hurt each Other for no reason at all-Just like the ‘ragged urchin’ mentioned.

People regress into primitivism and develop an animal- instinct. Unwarranted promises and lack of humanity was the order of the contemporary times. Hyphenates is the god of fire and metal- smith who made the shield of Achilles. Thesis, the mother of Achilles cries out in despair at the thought of the inevitability of death, at the idea of the death of her son. ‘The strong/ Iron-hearted man” referred to in the poem is Paris destined to slay Achilles, War, a metaphor of life, where people are caught in the race of arrival of the fittest, spares no one and one eventually succumbs to the same. She looked over his shoulder Poor vines and olive trees, Marble well-governed acidities ships upon untamed seas,But there on the shining metallic hands had put instead artificial wilderness a sky like lead A plain putout a feature, bare and brown,No blade of grass, no sign of neighborhood, Nothing to eat and nowhere to sit down, Yet, congregated on its blankness, Stanton unintelligible multitude, A million eyes, a million boots in line,Without expression, waiting for a sign.

Out of he air a voice Without a factored by statistics that some cause was just In tones as dry and level as the place:No one was cheered and nothing was discussed;Column by column in a cloud of dust They marched away enduring a belief Whose logic brought them, somewhere else, to grief. She looked over his shoulder ritual pieties,White flower-garlanded heifers,Libation and sacrifice,But there on the shining metalworker the altar should have been,She saw by his flickering forge-lighter another scene. Airbed wire enclosed an arbitrary exosphere bored officials lounged (one cracked a joke)

And sentries sweated for the day was hoot crowd of ordinary decent Tallahatchie from without and neither moved nor spoke As three pale figures were led forth and bound To three posts driven upright in the ground. The mass and majesty of this world, althea carries weight and always weighs the same Lay in the hands Of Others; they were swampland could not hope for help and no help came:What their foes like to do was done, their shame Was all the worst could wish; they lost their pride And died as men before their bodies died.

She looked over his shoulder athletes at their games, Men and women in a dampening their sweet umbilicus, quick, to music,But there on the shining shield hands had set no dancing-flouter a weed. Choked field. A ragged urchin, aimless and alone,Loitered about that vacancy; a bird Flew up to safety from his well-aimed stone:That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,Were axioms to him, who’d never heard Of any world where promises were kept, Or one could weep because another wept.

The thin-lipped armored,Hyphenates, hobbled away,Thesis of the shining breaststroke out in dismay what the god had wrought please her son, the strongly-hearted man-slaying Achilles loud not live long. 03, Achilles is the Greek hero and the protagonist of Homer’s military epic the “Iliad. ” Homer chronicles in great detail and in a grand manner the heroic deeds of Achilles during the Trojan war.

During the course of the war, Achilles had lost his armor after lending it to his dearest friend Patrols who was killed in the war by Hector. Achilles’ mother Thesis asks the blacksmith of the gods, Hyphenates to make new armor for Achilles. The new shield Which Hyphenates made for Achilles is described in great detail by Homer in Book 18, lines 478-608 Of the “Iliad. ” It is a classic example Of an ‘keepsakes’ or ‘separates,’ that is, a dramatic and vivid description off visual art.

Homer describes vividly the images which decorate the shield in nine concentric circles or layers. There are various interpretations to the images found on the shield, but what is central to the images is the all comprehensive variety, vitality and fecundity of human life in general, Addend’s “The Shield of Achilles” (1953) is his direct ‘modern’ response to Homer’s description of Achilles’ shield. The numerical symbolism of the nine areas or concentric circles of Homer’s Achilles’ shield is mirrored in W. H.

Addend’s poem which has nine stanzas-To quote from the returnee link of notes: “Stanzas l, 4, 7, and g are set squarely in ancient Greece, and the readers gaze is directed toward Thesis and Hyphenates. These stanzas are composed of eight three- stress lines; the second and fourth lines rhyme, as do the sixth and eighth. The other stanzas, in which the scenes of modern life are presented in detail, are quite different. These stanzas are in the seven-line form known as rime royal. The lines are in iambic pentameter, with the rhyme scheme abaca.

The contrast is striking, both visually and aurally, and it is impossible not to notice the movement between stanzas focused on Thesis’s innocent expectations and those focused on the harsh realities depicted on the shield. ” In Homer’s “Iliad” war although destructive had a certain grandeur and larger than life appeal. On the contrary, Addend’s three (a platoon Of soldiers going out to battle, three men being executed, and “a ragged urchin aimless and alone”) images cynically describe the meaninglessness and futility Of modern day warfare and life in general “where promises were [not] kept. “


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