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A Happy 80th Birthday Wish

for the Poet’s Father

I wish for you the golden years Odysseus had
Retired from life’s long strife, a sort of Trojan War:
The births and deaths were bloody fights, some good, some bad;
And there were far-flung journeys bringing more
Adventures than you ever thought could be in store.
I wish for you his splendid feast with roasted meat
And wine, and sacrificial wafts of smoke that soar
Up to the Father of the Gods’s sandaled feet.
The barbecue with friends and games is made complete
When He and Hera send their smiles down to us
And Muses of the Arts come dancing to the beat
Of soothing sunlit symphonies so sonorous,
Resounding to the cloud-veiled future’s distant land.
I lift my cup to you and wish to shake your hand.

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Evan Mantyk teaches literature and history in New York and is President of the Society of Classical Poets.


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20 Responses

  1. Sally Cook

    Dear Evan,
    Congratulations to your father for his long and varied life, which includes having a son like you !

    Reply
    • Evan Mantyk

      Thank you, Sally! I am in part inspired by your moving poetry about parents.

      Reply
  2. Damian Robin

    Happy Birthday to your dad, Evan.

    He sounds like a good one – if you respect him so.
    So he will not mind the off-beat in lines 10 and 12.

    Maybe you could go for
    “The barbecue with friends and games is made complete
    When He and Hera send their smilings down to us
    And Muses of the Arts come dancing to the beat
    Of sunlit symphonies so rich and sonorous,
    Resounding to the cloud-veiled future’s distant land.”

    I like the diminution of the Odysseus’ feast to an earthly barbecue augmented by the Muses’ dancing to future celestial music.

    Reply
    • Evan Mantyk

      Thank you, Damian. It is probably a good thing that I recorded it then. The pronunciations are key here: “smiles” is pronounced “smigh-yulls” and the alliteration leads to the over-accented SO in line 12. But maybe this latter point isn’t so strong. I’ve fixed it I think.

      Reply
      • Damian Robin

        Thank you, Evan, I did make my reply before I noticed the recording. Nicely read and it does make the scansion clear.

  3. Cynthia Erlandson

    What a beautiful way to honor your father! Paul and I were honored to meet him, and wouldn’t have guessed him to be 80! Your imagery describing the feast is very well done.

    Reply
  4. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Here’s wishing your father a wonderful 80th year and many more beautiful years ahead! What a wonderful gift from his talented son. I especially like these delicious lines:
    I wish for you his splendid feast with roasted meat
    And wine, and sacrificial wafts of smoke that soar
    Up to the Father of the Gods’s sandaled feet.
    Thank you for sharing this lovingly wrought tribute to your dad. I love it!

    Reply
  5. Brian Yapko

    Evan, there can be no more meaningful gift than this offering of your considerable talent and heart. This Spenserian sonnet is deeply moving and bespeaks both great respect and affection. Both you and your father are very blessed. A hearty happy 80th birthday to him!

    Reply
  6. Yael

    That’s a lovely and inspiring birthday poem and a gift that would make every dad proud. Happy birthday!

    Reply
  7. Roy E. Peterson

    Impressive tribute to your father who no doubt is proud of what his son does and has become. I join the others in wishing both a Happy Birthday to him and a thank you to him for having such a distinguished son. I particularly love the alliteration of lines 7 and 12, almost like a matching set. I lift my cup in salute to both you and your father on his special occasion.

    Reply
  8. Joseph S. Salemi

    May God’s blessings of long life and health be steady for your father, Evan. Not to mention a loving son like you.

    Reply
  9. Paul Freeman

    A happy birthday indeed – and what a present you’ve given him in your poem.

    Reply
  10. Margaret Coats

    Pater optime valeat, laetus mente causa scripturae adsiduae et diligentis filii. I follow Cicero calling a literary work “an attentive and loving scripture.” May your father feel especially strong and happy because of this one of yours, Evan.

    Reply
  11. Morrison Handley-Schachler

    A Happy Birthday to your father, Evan! Beautiful classical poem.

    Reply
  12. James A. Tweedie

    When I was young I used to think that 80-year-olds were so old that they may well have been contemporaneous with the likes of Odysseus. Now that I am older, eighty years seems like yesterday!

    Time, like you and your father, is “relative.”

    Congratulations to your father for his good, long life, and to you for having had the good fortune to be his son.

    Reply

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