What might, what gold does Ithaca hold to vex us;
Enthralled ‘till when, by whom, for what, and where?
Do not the mermaids sing the song that wakes us
to pleasured, pampered mornings in their arms and hair?
Explain to me the madness of the twice-seduced
to shun and spite Calypso despite her swoon!
How I pine for a pint of stupor by lotus induced
To hell with sweat, with oars; for once forget the boon!
We flee the monsters, yes, but why the rest
the dainty meals, the silk uncovered flesh.
O Ithaca blest, ignore my rash protest
your richer foods, your girls with modest mesh
I still deem best. The deeper yearn, the higher call
Ulysses blest, onward home you man of gall…
Onward home.



Emmanuel Flores, LC, was born in the southernmost region of California. He is a religious brother on his way to the priesthood. He is currently studying philosophy in Rome.

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9 Responses

  1. Ramón Rodríguez

    Artfully illustrated! I particularly enjoyed the way a rapport was formed with past poets while bringing new life to an old theme. Cheers!

  2. Peter Hartley

    The language is good as is the story told, but only four lines out of 15 [sic], these being 2,9,10 and 12 are in the regular pentameter rhythm of a sonnet, lines 1 and 3 rhyme only because the same word has been used twice, and on line 2 ‘’till’ is not a word or a contraction of ‘until’, where ‘‘til’ could have been used or simply ‘till’

    • Emmanuel Flores

      Thank you for the feedback. It is much appreciated, being that this is my first sonnet (I’m more of a story writer). I think I’m starting off well by getting great advice.
      You are right about the regular pentameter rhythm. Only four lines may be ‘regular’ and yet I have found many an irregular rhythm in the meters of the great poets which I have read. I believe the structure should be an orientation, not a constriction. Either one is a master of rhythm (of which few are found) or one risks a mediocre poem of perfect structure but awkward rendering.
      As well, if I have understood the various books I have read on poetry structure correctly, exceptions are welcome as long as the form gives body to the text. Ozymandias by Percy Shelley is a perfect example. It is in sonnet form and yet it most definitely breaks the “regular pentameter rhythm”. However, a balance should be attained, and I’m well aware that first one must be able to fit the structure, so to say, before he can break it. Which I will work on.
      Now, about the rhyme in lines 1 and 3, the point was to create a close assonance between wakes us and vex us, hence the word “us” comes to represent a syllable rather than a word.
      Thank you for pointing out that it is either ’til or till and not ’till, I was not aware of that mistake.

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    There are so many oblique references to the Odyssey here that one cannot really grasp what the poem is trying to express.

    Ithaca, Calypso, the lotus-eaters, the monsters (Polyphemus and Skylla?), the singing mermaids (the Sirens?)… all very evocative, to be sure, but lacking in any logical linkage. What is being said about the mariner Odysseus?

    Also, the phrase “girls with modest mesh” is simply impossible. The word “mesh” means nothing in that context, and seems added solely to make a rhyme with “flesh.”

    • Emmanuel Flores

      Thank you for your feedback. I appreciate it. There are somethings I disagree with or rather am perhaps misunderstanding. I offer my response in the hope of due clarification on my part and perhaps further feedback if opportune.
      I would think my references straightforward for someone who knows the Odyssey even from a distance: Ithaca is the homeland, the one desire in the heart of a searching man; Calypso, Circe (implied reference) and the singing mermaids (yes, the sirens) are the temptations along the way, the other beauties seducing and leading astray; the monsters are the obstacles and fears.
      What is being said about Odysseus? That he is one with a clear goal in mind. A man who follows faithfully his heart’s desire; the man many wish to be. And the narrator, so to say, is me, others, whoever feels the troubles of keeping on the straight and narrow path.
      Pretty straightforward, no? Logical linkage? Odysseus and the weary mariner go from trouble and temptation towards Ithaca (point A to point B passing through C, C being the subjective experience of a poor mariner who cannot understand why continue, hence the possible jumble of ideas).
      Now, about modest mesh. Indeed, I used the word because it rhymed with flesh, but not solely. I asked myself if it could work before I placed it. Perhaps I was wrong in using it, but I referred to mesh as “network of thread” or “interlaced material”, as in tight-knit mesh, and this as a synecdoche for a whole vestment, which together with the adjective modest gives a decent idea of what I meant.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Well, your intentions are clear from the prose explanation above, but I still feel they are opaque in the poem itself. The diction choices and the syntax of the poem seem inappropriate in some spots, and confusing in others.

        Also, from what you have said above it seems that you intend the reader to think of Odysseus and “the reluctant mariner” as two different persons. That’s not immediately apparent from the text of the poem.

  4. Monty

    As well as the blemishes mentioned by others (L1-L3 is like trying to rhyme ‘wakes us’ with ‘Texas’; We only use ’til or till; ‘Mesh’, unless you were analogising girls in fish-net stockings.. highly improbable), I also found several segments of the diction hard to grasp with any certainty: ‘..by lotus induced to hell with sweat’; ‘ignore my rash protests your richer foods’; ‘but why the rest the dainty meals’ (the latter being compounded by no question-mark at the end of a sentence containing the word ‘why’).

    I say this not as a requestfor any elucidation on the diction: I’m totally (but intentionally) ignorant of the subject-matter anyway . . so it’s not like I wanna know the ins an’ outs of the narrative.

    Conclusion: I’d say your poem’s a decent effort, Emm . . it just needs a bit of tidying up. You seem to have the idea; and you’ve certainly got an adequate grasp of our language . . . but more importantly, you composed a poem and submitted it to a bona fide poetry-website. You should continue to do so; the feedback you’ll receive will be invaluable.

    • Emmanuel Flores

      I think I replied to mostly everything mentioned above, if it is of any interest. My apologies on the confusing diction, the punctuation does need reworking.
      You are right about the invaluable feedback. Thank you.

  5. C.B. Anderson

    I stand with the comments of my predecessors, who nailed down the problems with this poem. I hope you will heed their advice and get your house in order. As things stand, it was a bold attempt, but nothing to write home about.


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