"Triumph of Achilles in Corfu Achilleion," Franz Matsch, 1892, Wikipedia photo.
“Triumph of Achilles in Corfu Achilleion,” Franz Matsch, 1892, Wikipedia photo.

Three days by sailing ship, parishioners braved
Neptune’s stormy seas to visit ancient marbled-
Cliff upheaval, Sea Lord’s divine creation, refuge
Of Luece Isle. Upon this hallowed plateau arose
A burial mound of hand-laid stones and verdant
Grass, radiant guiding flame, gold embellished
Burial chamber, Tumulus of Achilles.

Amongst twenty seafaring faithful, they carried
Sheep and pigs for ritual sacrificial feast and
Rough-hewn trunks of trees to erect a funeral
Pyre in memory of Achilles’ god-like triumphs
And hero’s death. Fallen by Aphrodite-adored
Young Paris, loosed poisonous arrow to Achilles
Heel, Hydra’s toxic blood, legendary Trojan War.

Custom of Achilles’ disciples, under night sail
Their boats approached, gliding amongst steady
Winds, leeward of island tomb, to witness first
Sighting of holy beacon-flames. By august fires,
They fixed anchorage on pillared-harbors, evening
Preparations at island-edge, prayerful anticipation
Of heaven’s ascending light.

On bended knee, they prayed at Achilles’ ceno
Taph, and read aloud Homer’s words inscribed
There on, passage of The Iliad: “Sing, goddess,
Of Achilles’ ruinous anger which brought ten
Thousand pains to the Achaeans, and cast the
Souls of many stalwart heroes to Hades, and
Their bodies to the dogs and birds of prey.”

Here, they made sacrifices of cleansed pigs
And sheep, blood offering spilt to over-flowing
Altar bowls of bronze, fashioned as Achilles’
Shield, bloodstained-bleating death, venerated
Soldiers’ dying pleas as their armored enemy,
By spear and sword, cleft mortal flesh from
Eternal soul, battlefield miseries wreaked.

From brine-dark seas, Achilles’ Tumulus gives
Rise, sun-emblazoned veldt, natural terrace,
Gracing ocean isle. Upon foot approach, aerie
Tomb rises in undulating swells, labours of
Man and gods, permitting entrance to sacred
Marbled halls, protecting war spoils, their
Hero’s golden urn of fire-burned bones.

By oracle decree, only three cult faithful could
Enter the holy crypt, those pure of humbled heart
And soul, absolution attained by days of humble
Supplication upon Leuce Isle, propylon approach-
Ing steps, main vestibule peering upon the sea.
Deep within protected naos on altar high, Achilles’
Urn in sequestered silence reigned.

Mysteries of antiquity abide in hearts of men,
Learnéd words revered, oft whispered-read in
Watchful hours, trials of fire-rites, temptation
Of flesh, clash of human and divine, when walls
And ramparts fell, victories by plundering might,
Greek heroes and historians honoured, past lives
Exalted, poetry recounting iconic dreams.

For additional reading on Achilles’ tumulus, see this link:
http://chs.harvard.edu/wa/pageR?tn=ArticleWrapper&bdc=12&mn=1312 

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