Tale of Troy Divine

Seeing the recent film Troy reminded me of a poem that came to me by a roundabout route. It was originally published in Hymers School magazine in about 1900; close to the time of the Paris Exhibition, hence the reference in the poem. I don’t know the original author.

The Tale of Troy Divine

Fashionable wedding
Present Upper Ten
Gods in Olympus
Making merry, when
Woman discontented
Thought it rather hard
She for festive function
Hadn’t had a card;
So upon the table,
Breaking up the meal,
Threw a golden apple
Legend on the peel
“Present for the fairest”;
Each exclaimed, “That’s I”.
Maids were far from modest
In the days gone by.

Dwelt a little shepherd
Near the town of Troy,
Paris, son of Priam,
Artless kind of boy.
Him they made an umpire.
Held a Beauty Show
Candidates selected
Seated in a row:
Venus, Queen of Beauty,
Juno, Heaven’s queen,
Third and last, Minerva
Stocking blue I ween.
Each essayed to charm him,
Winked a tempting eye;
All was fair in contest
In the days gone by.

Venus was the victrix –
Easy to surmise –
Fairest wife in Hellas
Promised for the prize.
“Just the thing,” thought Paris,
“Greecewards I’ll be bound,
Visit Menelaus,
Have a look around.”
Helen was his hostess,
Very fair to see
“Fairest wife in Hellas?
Just the wife for me!”
Tickets taken Troywards
Fugitive they fly.
That’s the way they did it
In the days gone by.

Damages substantial
Menelaus sought.
Warriors in thousands
Hurried to his court.
All about the verses
Running you may read –
AJAX, AGAMEMNON,
NESTOR, DIOMEDE.
What a nasty temper
Young Achilles had!
Read a book by HOMER
Called the Iliad.
Ten long years encamping
Troy to take they try;
Sieges were protracted
In the days gone by.

How at last they took it
You will know, of course.
Wily man Ulysses
Built his wooden horse.
Strange the tricks “Invention’s
Foster Mother” finds!
Heroes crawl inside it
Pulling down the blinds.
Sighted from the ramparts
Troubles now begin
Horse and Greeks and Trojans
All are taken in.
Fire and sword and slaughter
Doughty Dardans die –
Slimness was successful
In the days gone by.

Interesting moral
Such a tale affords;
Paris Exhibitions?
Frequently are frauds.
Gentle maidens, should you
Golden apples find,
Never read the legend
Written on the rind.
Gentlemen, in choosing
Partners for your life,
Choose a maid or widow
Rather than a wife.
Meddle not with horses,
That’s the reason why
Trouble took the Trojans
In the days gone by.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser