And Aaron, son of Max,
Who had been raised in the glorious countryside,
Tending to his studies at the local school,
Where he had excelled in history, and been otherwise average at best,
Though intermittently playing for the football team,
He slew Joseph, son of Gregory, who was himself
The son of old Maxwell, both of whom were slain alike,
Along with their wives and young children,
And Aaron turned his mighty gun and,
On another seeing them, slew David,
Who, in his youth, had often played in the barren dust
That marked the extinguished factories near his home,
And David’s wife, Anissa, like fate befell
Freddie, just returned from work, whereupon
Aaron, he of the mighty gun,
With one fierce blow destroyed the whole house of Leonard,
Who had given counsel to his neighbours and was called just,
But now lay burnt and charred amid the dust.
All this was witnessed by Jacobi, son of Louis the Whig,
Who had once devised a form so unintelligible,
Even the wisest men had to purchase further counsel to complete it.
And this Jacobi, with his untested strength,
Raised his assault rifle and marched a dozen miles,
Whereupon he brought down mighty Oscar,
Who had once cast a stone at a scavenging bird,
And the two children that had been the delight of Oscar’s life,
And furthermore, not knowing of the link,
Jacobi of the swift-firing gun laid Philip low,
Who had never raised a gun, but only a stick in wanton play,
Seeking to imitate his father, Aaron of the great gun,
Who shared three things with Jacobi –
His victim’s number and anonymity,
And the sense of righteous cause to avenge and cause a tragedy.
I have sometimes wondered whether Homer could exist today. On seeing Victor Hugo argue that, in the age of industrialised mass warfare (For him, the Napoleonic wars; at the time of writing this, the recent events in Gaza) such epic poetry was impossible, I decided to take up the challenge. My opinion is this – it is impossible to accurately represent it, because modern weaponry means that should Achilles slay Hector, it will be at such a distance that Achilles may well never see Hector clearly – and likely will not kill Hector alone by the skill of his hand, but with the assistance of complex weapons, support teams and other such help. However, what I did find was that the structure of the poem allowed me to express this fairly well, because it shows that the heroes of before have no longer got the same control of what they do.
I also realised that many of the names – on both sides – are of Biblical origin. Please do not read anything into this – I realised early on that using fictional names was likely to result in me being perceived to take a political stance. Instead I chose the names of people that I know, or enjoy the writings of, as needed for the metre. I strive to keep my political opinions about controversial issues out of my poetry (Dare I call it art?) – except when I see no valid argument on the other side. In this case, that would be erroneous.
The Hapless Neo-Romantic