George Economou

George Economou

GEORGE ECONOMOU is the author of twelve books of poetry and translations, the latest of which are Ananios of Kleitor (Shearsman, 2009), Half an Hour, translations of Cavafy (Stop Press of London, 2008), and Acts of Love, Ancient Greek Poetry from Aphrodite’s Garden (Random House, 2006). Educated at Colgate (A.B. 1956) and Columbia (M.A. 1957, Ph.D. 1967) Universities, he has published many translations from ancient and Modern Greek and medieval European languages, including William Langland’s Piers Plowman (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996). A critic and scholar of medieval literature, he is the author of The Goddess Natura in Medieval Literature (Harvard University Press, 1972; reprinted, University of Notre Dame Press, 2002) and numerous other studies, including an edition of the late Paul Blackburn’s troubadour translations, Proensa (University of California Press, 1978). A founding editor of The Chelsea Review and co-founder of Trobar and Trobar Books, he has published many critical reviews and essays. A Rockefeller Fellow at Bellagio, he has been named twice as an NEA Fellow in Poetry. He taught for forty-one years at Wagner College, Long Island University, Hunter College, Columbia, and the University of Oklahoma. He retired in 2000 as Professor Emeritus of English after of teaching for seventeen years at the University of Oklahoma, where he was department chair of English from 1983-90 and director of Creative Writing from 1990-2000. George Economou has given readings and lectures at many literary venues and universities throughout the United States and abroad. He lives with his wife Rochelle Owens, the poet and playwright, in Philadelphia and Wellfleet, Massachussetts.

For Rochelle

It took only one
of Eros’ arrows
for this love to take.
Aiming the truly
feathered shaft, he laughed,
“For the long haul, kids,”
and let it fly home.
“You’ll never forget,
though thousands will slip
and others may fade,
this bright day of days
that you caught my eye.”

Dedicatory Poem in
Acts of Love, Ancient Greek Poetry
from Aphrodite’s Garden

The Amorous Drift of the First Hoplite on the Right Wing

The Battle of Mantinea, 348 B.C.

All armies are alike in this: on going into action they get forced out rather on their right wing, and one and the other overlap with this their adversary’s left; because fear makes each man do his best to shelter his unarmed side with the shield of the man next him on the right, thinking that the closer the shields are locked together the better will he be protected. The man primarily responsible for this is the first upon the right wing, who is always striving to withdraw from the enemy his unarmed side; and the same apprehension makes the rest follow him.
–Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, V. 71

The amorous drift of the first hoplite on the right
wing to protect his unshielded side from the enemy
was solicitous of his survival and contagious to the
hoplite to his left whose amorous edging behind his
neighbor’s shield for the sake of his survival and to
the hoplite to his left and to his left was considered
dangerous by the generals at Mantinea where both
armies having caught it moved in circuitous front lines
the Athenian phalanx the more impetuous the Spartan
though anxious to hold synchrony with the battle flutists’
pace yielding at last to the devious swerve for survival
that would be perilous if not calamitous to the generals’
plans had they not provided multifarious maneuvers
analogous to the anomalous overlapping of their left
flanks to insure they would in the end be victorious
despite the amorous drift begun by the first hoplite on
the right wing just before the ferocious sweep into chaos.

Poetry in this post: © George Economou
Photo: Andrea Auge
Published with the permission of George Economou