Apollo at Teucros *

 

 

The golden age of which the poets told
Involved some wonders no one quite believes,
But mice and men were truly thick as thieves:
See Smintheus, the mouse-god carved of gold.
The men of Teucros drove like autumn leaves
Across the world to seek the fated force
That, rising from the earth, would stay their course
And still the clash of armor plate and greaves.
That night, as each man slept beside his horse,
We had a party. We ate all the straps
That held their warlike gear in place. No scraps
Remained. The soldiers settled here, of course.

Beneath Apollo's foot no mouse is trod:
His instrument, the mouse, lifts up the god.


* Homer tells of a prophecy by which the Teucrians lived -- they would roam and wage war until they met an irresistible force that rose from the ground, and when that happened, they would roam no more. One night, mice ate the leather straps of the Teucrian armor and gear. They settled on the spot, raising a temple to the Mouse-God Smintheus (a manifestation of Apollo), whose statue has the right foot slightly elevated, with a mouse peeking out beneath his sandal.


 

 

© Kevin Berland, 1999

 

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