One of the underappreciated poets of our day has died at 85, sadly without having finished his great work, the recreation of Homer’s Iliad. I wrote about Logue way back in 2003 and was shocked, in a way I’m not usually shocked any more, to read that he had died. Here‘s Mark Espiner’s excellent Guardian obit; he writes:
Louis MacNeice said of Logue’s Homer poem that never was blood bloodier or fate more fatal, and while Logue remained faithful to Homer’s approach, redrawing the similes and gory detail of the original, he nevertheless made it his own, sometimes even inventing original passages and characters. Logue himself subtitled it an “account” of The Iliad; critics called it Logue’s Iliad rewritten or simply Logue’s Homer….
He won only a handful of literary prizes including, late in life, the 2005 Whitbread award for poetry for Cold Calls. Surprisingly, his name was hardly mentioned as a possible poet laureate after Ted Hughes’s death in 1998…
You can hear him reading from All Day Permanent Red (the fourth book of his Homer series) here, and there’s a two-minute clip (from 1965) of him reading his “Chorus of the Secret Police” (adapted from Antigone; pdf) here. I can’t imagine anyone encountering Logue and not wanting a closer acquaintance with the classics he so brilliantly updated.
And its attendant moon
(Neither of great importance
But beautiful, and dignified)
Making their way around the sun.
Bread trucks have begun to stream
across the vast plateau,
fair skies, high cumulus cloud —
the birds are in full throat
as the sun lights up the east.
Who is it sees
Set in the high Aegean sea, their coasts
Nosegays of seaweed toasting Ida’s snow,
The Isles of Imbros and of Samothrace?
And over there — grapes, ghosts and vocal grottoes —
(from All Day Permanent Red)