Marcia Bushnell - Patroclus

Boy Soldiers

24″ x 32″    oil/canvas



Poem by Marcia Bushnell, 2016

Patroclus went to battle wearing armour not his own.
He died upon the sands of Troy for honor not his own.
He begged Achilles lead his men, reverse the battles tide,
as comrades waited for command and watched the fates align,
Achilles sat within his tent raging in useless blame
believing the spoils of conquest to be a noble aim.
Achilles preened his royal pride that fed his royal rage,
examined not the course he chose, the climate of the age.
No transcendent leadership, tempering and wise
no humbling self-control or reasoned compromise.
As shields and spears assembled, amid the keening roar,
decisive moments perished as hero spirits soared.
Patroclus raised Achilles’ shield, brilliant in the light:
a target men could follow and sure his end invite.
I think about Patroclus, the rescuer of men.
He could not watch Achilles spoil honor for revenge,
nor could abandon comrades to deaths beneath those walls,
nor watch their blood shed aimlessly not knowing why they fall.
Patroclus went to battle wearing armor not his own
and died upon the sand of Troy for honor not his own.
He donned the sacred armor belonging to his friend
and led the ancient warriors to futile, fateful ends.
Beware all battle legends, beware the curse of shame.
beware the heroes’ challenge pledging sure, redemptive fame.
Some men will die for comrades, others protecting home,
some die to give life meaning, some to avenge a wrong.
All obey a primal order, decreed within the brain
that pride and greed and honor are worthy of the pain.
For Troy went down to ashes and memory dims the scene
on why the lure of treasures obscures what life can mean.
Obscures our moral reason by which we must decide
upon what shield we forfeit the only life we own.