But there on the shining metal Where the altar should have been, She saw by his flickering forge-light Quite another scene. Barbed wire enclosed an arbitrary spot Where bored officials lounged one cracked a joke And sentries sweated for the day was hot: A crowd of ordinary decent folk Watched from without and neither moved nor spoke As three pale figures were led forth and bound To three posts driven upright in the ground.
The mass and majesty of this world, all That carries weight and always weighs the same Lay in the hands of others; they were small And could not hope for help and no help came: What their foes like to do was done, their shame Was all the worst could wish; they lost their pride And died as men before their bodies died.
She looked over his shoulder For athletes at their games, Men and women in a dance Moving their sweet limbs But there on the shining shield His hands had set no dancing-floor But a weed-choked field.
A ragged urchin, aimless and alone, Loitered about that vacancy; a bird Flew up to safety from his well-aimed stone: The thin-lipped armorer, Thetis of the shining breasts Cried out in dismay At what the god had wrought To please her son, the strong Iron-hearted man-slaying Achilles Who would not live long.
It has been generally interpreted as a commentary on the dangers of a totalitarian state--and this is a valid reading--but I think that this reading only scratches at the surface of what Auden was getting at. Hephaestos agrees, and Homer's poem describes in detail the marvelous artistry and detail that the smith emblazons upon the glorious shield.
Auden takes this story and turns it on its head. In Auden's poem, we see Thetis and Hephaestos "She looked over his shoulder" in the god's forge after the armor has been crafted. Thetis examines the images on the shield, and the following stanzas are vivid descriptions of the pictures she finds there.
These scenes are presented in a dreamlike fashion that causes us as readers to experience them something like Thetis herself would have been experiencing them. Thetis is repeatedly 'dismayed' at what she sees. She expects to see classical, traditional images of Beauty, but instead sees a vision of the Modern world, a disturbing world that Auden paints as becoming increasingly dehumanized.
In essence, the poem is a description or perhaps a warning of the inevitable progression of a society that has adopted a philosophy of Nihilism. He is basically describing America. There is no goal There is no Truth, no 'thing in itself. The old traditions have been destroyed; we elite few know the best way to shape humanity.
Anyone who has been educated in the humanities at a secular university should understand precisely what these lines are getting at. It has many names--Materialism, Positivism, Scientism--but traced back to its root it is essentially one form of Nihilism.
For the sake of brevity, the second vision that Thetis sees on the shield is essentially humanity's loss of hope. And this inability to have hope in the face of death causes them to "die as men before their bodies died. This is the fruit of the "belief" followed by humanity in the preceding scenes--the fruit of Nihilism.
If there is no truth, then there can certainly be no true hope. If there is no truth, death conquers all. The last vision that Thetis sees on the shield shows the inevitable destination of the society that has abandoned a belief in Truth.
We see a lone child, throwing a rock at a bird.
But what is incredible about this child, we learn, is that horror and sin are 'axioms' to him--they are basic, common truths. He is not bothered by the fact that "girls are raped," or that "two boys [would] knife a third," precisely because he has "never heard of any world where promises were kept" or that "one could weep because another wept.
Auden could see the direction the Modern world was going, and this poem articulates the vision of one who sees all too clearly the intellectual deception that was so prevalent even during his time.In "The Shield of Achilles," Auden juxtaposes the classical imagery of Hephaestus's construction of the eponymous shield with brutal modern imagery to illustrate the anxious meaninglessness of modern life, the warfare engendered by it, and the cruel social realities that lie behind both.
Absorbs and redirects force away from sensitive Achilles tendon area Achilles Shield, Heel Blister Prevention & Protection by Vertical . The Shield of Achilles by WH Auden She looked over his shoulder For vines and olive trees, Marble well-governed cities And ships upon untamed seas, But there on the shining metal His hands had put instead An artificial wilderness And a sky like lead.
The shield of Achilles plays a major part in the Iliad. It portrays the story of the Achaeans and their fight against the Trojans in a microcosm of the larger story. Forged by the god, Hephaestus, who was a crippled smith, it depicts the two cities and the happenings within, as well as Agamemnon’s.
The Academy of American Poets is the largest membership-based nonprofit organization fostering an appreciation for contemporary poetry and supporting American poets. For over three generations, the Academy has connected millions of people to great poetry through programs such as National Poetry.
The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History [Philip Bobbitt] on timberdesignmag.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. For five centuries, the State has evolved according to epoch-making cycles of war and peace. But now our world has changed irrevocably.
What faces us in this era of fear and uncertainty? How do we /5(45).