Revenge. Phillipos [blackened at top by fire] that little hill, rubbed bald by galling winds, the fossil-hill nigh the Hades Hole. We'll stitch chords to their ribs and fly them like kites. We'll chorus our dead to the music of the humming strings. [burned away]
Fragment discovered in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1998, where dozens of papyri, among them several poetic texts in relatively intact condition, were uncovered in a dig near Montazab Palace. Nothing is known of this poet and apparent soldier. While we have titled the poem "Revenge," the identity of the 'body-kites' is not entirely clear: Are they enemies, as we have guessed, or fallen comrades? If the latter, the poem might be titled "Funeral," or "Afterlife."
Poet and translator Alexandra Papaditsas died in May, 2002, in her native village of Thylakis, at the age of 42. In collaboration with other scholars, she had been engaged for many years in the attempt to crack the code of Linear Script A, an extinct second millennium BCE language inscribed on scores of clay tablets and fragments that have been excavated around the Mediterranean over the past century.
Kent Johnson is a poet and translator. Most recently, he has translated (with Forrest Gander) Immanent Visitor: Selected Poems of Jaime Saenz (California). The translations presented here are from The Miseries of Poetry: Some Translations from the Greek, forthcoming from Skanky Possum Press.