By Brian Culhane b. 1954 Brian Culhane
Hold, memory, a vision out of Greece:
The west wind breathes a ripening breath
As each pear, pendant and golden, brushes
Another, where four tilled acres glisten
Winter and summer: fig, olive, currant,
And the heavy succulent pomegranate
—Sunstruck for the plucker’s hand.
All this a stranger sees, palm on lintel,
Sees the stately women of the royal rooms
Murmuring over linen, looms humming;
Sees boys, on pedestals, shine torches
Which fire the eyes of Alkinöos’s hounds.

So much of heroism wondrously found
(Like a glinting pebble in a child’s hand,
Borne upward to imagination’s shallows),   
As I’d gaze at snow blanketing West End,
Hearing the story my father burnished
Over a month of nights, so that the voyage
Of the telling faded into the hours lived
Beside that voice—whiskey rough—again
Taking up the exile’s lament: hekatomb,
Distaff, honeyed wine . . . Some bleary god
Come down from heaven’s height, as snow
Descends on elms and, beyond our window,
Odysseus, beggared and unknown, moves
Toward the great bow of gnarled revenge.
Father, I stand beside you now, your right arm!
Pitch pine torches reveal a stranger’s son
Holding still-thrumming wood in his hand.

“Hexameter” by Brian Culhane. Copyright 2008 by Brian Culhane. Reprinted from The King’s Question with permission from Graywolf Press. www.graywolfpress.org

Source: The King’s Question (Graywolf Press, 2008)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Brian Culhane b. 1954

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Heroes & Patriotism, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology

 Brian  Culhane


In 2007 Brian Culhane was the recipient of the Poetry Foundation’s Emily Dickinson First Book Award, a prize for a first collection by a poet over the age of 50. Of the book, The King’s Question (2008), A.E. Stallings wrote that Culhane “pays his readers that high and rare compliment of assuming them to be intelligent, grown-up, well-versed, lettered and humane.”
Culhane’s poems have appeared in a number of journals, . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Heroes & Patriotism, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.