Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BIRDS: THE BUILDING OF CLOUDCUCKOOCITY, by ARISTOPHANES



Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

Rhyming Dictionary Search
THE BIRDS: THE BUILDING OF CLOUDCUCKOOCITY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Wh-wh -- wh-wh -- where's he, wh -- wh-where's
Last Line: Up on the barbicans.
Subject(s): Birds


MESSENGER. PISTHETAIROS
(Enter a Messenger, breathlessly.)

M.

Wh-wh -- wh-wh -- wh-where's he, wh -- wh-where's
the city-prefect Pisthetairos? P. Here.

M.

The building's done, your wall complete. P. Good news.

M.

A perfect structure, on the grandest scale!
Along the top Proxenides the Braggart
might meet Theogenes, his fellow, driving
horses, the pair of them, huge as the Trojan,
and pass -- so wide the road is. P. Herakles!

M.

In height it measures (as I proved myself)
six hundred feet. P. Poseidon! that's a height!
Who were the builders of a wall so big?

M.

Birds, only birds. Brick-carriers from Egypt,
stone-masons, carpenters -- not one was there!
Alone they built it, -- a marvel of hand-labour!
Some thirty thousand cranes, from Libya flown,
disgorged foundation-stones they'd lifted over;
These same the rasping corn-crakes pecked to shape,
while storks, ten thousand strong, fetched up the bricks.
Water was carried skyward from below
by lapwings and the like, birds of the river.

P.

And who served mortar to the builders? M. Herons,
in hods. P. And how were hodfuls loaded in?

M.

That, my dear fellow, was the cleverest touch!
Web-footed geese struck down into the mortar
and heaved them hodfuls up, like shovellers.

P.

There's nothing to which we cannot turn our -- feet.

M.

And damme if the ducks, with aprons on,
weren't laying bricks! Behind, for hard cement
bearing their clay in bill (as little lads
will serve a mason) up the swallows flew.

P.

What need to go on hiring hired labour?
But now, let's see . . . what birds about the wall
faced off the woodwork? M. Woodpeckers were there,
carpenters of the best, who used their beaks
to hack the gateways trim -- with a knocking noise
tap-tap-tapping like shipwrights in a dockyard.
Now the last detail is complete -- gates fitted,
bolted and barred, -- sentry-posts in a ring,
guards visited, the bellman going round,
everywhere watchmen set and beacons ready
up on the barbicans.





Other Poems of Interest...



Home: PoetryExplorer.net