Friday, July 28, 2006

from the Phoenician

Children grow. Up &
away. Distance themselves
& then declare their
independence. Fight
their own wars, ignore
their parents. The life
goes out of us. A
little left, enough to draw
the scavengers. Alexander
came & Tyre fell; &
later on the Greeks,
rats gnawing away
at what was left. Now
the cedars have all
been cut down, & with
their passing went the
shipwrights & furniture-
makers. Only the dyers
remain, letting the molluscs
rot to get the colour
from which we get our
name. Phoinis. We are
the purple people. To dye
a single toga takes
ten thousand shellfish. At
that rate don’t expect
them to be around
much longer either.

anonymous; c. 2nd century B.C.

translated by Umberto Allegrezza


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