J. Humbert Riddle’s Birthday Ode, Part I

J. Humbert Riddle’s Birthday Ode,
Delivered on Vacation
In the Isles, 2010

Editor’s Preface:
A new, extended version of
Perhaps Riddle’s most famous
Poem, written during a time
Of supposed sanity, and ease.

I. Claps of Thunder

I sat in a cell once, long ago,
In Athens it was, crying for that dead
Wasted body of pale Pericles… our hero.

Wine mixed
Not enough. I

Saw broken bits
Of corpses bouncing by –
Such sad women,
Such sad women – all
Pushed downstream to
The still, tepid waters of
Our port,
At Piraeus.

Wine mixed not
Enough. When

Young and bounding
Over rocks on
Star-cold sands by
The clay site at Siwa I
Stared at grimy papyrus
Scrolls, stared
At a king, a king left
Stabbed and silent by
A solemn pool,
A pool in
The dry, mythic mountains
Of perfumed Persia.

Wine mixed…

In Utica in a sparse room,
In a dead
Desert city, I
Found Cato mumbling
And mumbling about

The claps of thunder that come
Before the damp rains chill the
Silent statues the
Crowded squares of
Speckled Rome.

Wine…

Posted as Part of Poet’s United Sunday Poetry Pantry

12 thoughts on “J. Humbert Riddle’s Birthday Ode, Part I

  1. Mary November 1, 2015 / 6:24 pm

    I really like the effectively descriptive way you have set the scene in this poem & the way you used ‘wine’ to carry its theme.

    Like

  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) November 1, 2015 / 7:57 pm

    I really like the reference to a world of mythology and tales… I think that’s what you find deep in the amphora’s of Greece…

    Like

  3. victoria November 2, 2015 / 6:03 am

    I like the word path through this poem and its stories – the way you use the word “wine” to move through the poem.

    Like

  4. Jae Rose November 3, 2015 / 1:13 pm

    Even heroes can become trapped in their cells – maybe of their own making..maybe not..we all need a quest to keep going and find the key..a way out…

    Like

  5. Wendy Bourke November 5, 2015 / 1:44 am

    The classical tone and references in the piece, I think, serves to emphasize the timeless and endless aspect of lamenting the dead – as being perennial to humankind … always has been – and always will be.

    Like

  6. Sherry Blue Sky December 6, 2015 / 8:21 pm

    This is a very intriguing story and I see by your end-notes, this is a series that unfolds what must be a really cool tale……..I like the editor’s note at the beginning and that the poems presented are supposed to have been written by the poet named. The series would make a really cool book, which tells the entire story. This is a very cool concept.

    Like

  7. Laura Bloomsbury December 7, 2015 / 3:56 pm

    so many allusions here that will need to re-research the mythologies – and one is left wondering about the effect of wine or even the editor’s inference “Poem, written during a time
    Of supposed sanity, and ease.” 😉

    You make refreshing use of repetition which reminds me of the Greek chorus – a poetic device I’ve never tried. A saga I look forward to

    Like

  8. Donna@Living From Happiness December 14, 2015 / 9:26 am

    Part one is intriguing and like Laura said had me researching some ancient texts…but oh that birthday wine and what it can do! I too enjoyed the feeling of the Greek chorus and the repeated lines.

    Like

  9. scotthastiepoet December 20, 2015 / 10:54 pm

    New to your work, I think… bit I enjoyed this flight of imagination and indeed your well honed lyric voice too. I especially liked the following passage:

    “Found Cato mumbling
    And mumbling about

    The claps of thunder that come
    Before the damp rains chill the
    Silent statues the
    Crowded squares of
    Speckled Rome.” Very polished… I’ll be back for more sometime… With Best Wishes Scott

    Like

  10. Truedessa January 24, 2016 / 7:45 pm

    Ah a pool found on the dry mythic mountains of Persia … a king who no longer drinks the water of life. I wonder what those scrolls would tell us? The usage of wine a drink from the vine that sometimes plays with minds. I don’t know I read many things in this interesting piece of writing.

    Like

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