Thursday, July 14, 2022

Odyssey Rap: Part I

 In 2005, my wife, daughter and her then boyfriend to a trip to some Grecian Isles. Since neither in the younger generation had ever read Homer’s OdysseyI decided I would read a chapter each night at dinner from a book I brought. After a few pages, the yawns and rolled eyes made it clear: “That ain’t gonna happen.” Not to be dissuaded, I decided to re-tell the story as a rap and so each night, wrote a different episode and recited it the next day. It generated an inch more interest and I carried on to the end, seventeen pages later. 


There it lay fallow for many years until the 8th grade teacher at my school told me she was having the kids read a book version. And so she invited me to share my rap and I had brief fame amongst the 8th graders as Dougie Fresh. 


For anyone actual fluent in the genre, my end of the line rhymes and septameter (I think) rhythm doesn’t do justice to the art form, but still I had fun writing it and a few contemporary references (“classes in Pilates,” Hello, Dolly, “Hit the Road, Jack” and more) helped liven things up a bit and attract the attention of the next generation.


So buckle your seat belt and either climb aboard for the trip or decline it (but do come back to my Blog!), but I suggest giving it a try, either as a review or a preview. Enjoy!



© 2005 Doug Goodkin


There was a man, Odysseus, of legendary fame,

An ancient Grecian soldier, from Ithaca he came.

The hero of the Odyssey, that old Homeric lore,

Who fought for ten long years in the bloody Trojan war.

(You can read it in the Iliad, another Homer poem)

But now the war was over and he set to sail back home.



Don’t dis the ‘Dys,’ he did what he could,

To sail his men home safely and get back to his hood.

He used his wits and courage, he acted like a man,

But Fate stepped in, to his chagrin, the gods had others plans.


He gathered up the ships and crew and sailed the stormy seas

They came ashore an island with fog curling through the trees.

They killed some goats for dinner and ate tasty lamb chops

And found that they were in the land of the one-eyed Cyclops.


Odysseus took a dozen men with gifts for their strange hosts,

And waited in a cave to offer cheese and toast.

One Cyclops returned, a giant ugly beast

Odysseus offered him the food, but the dude refused the feast.

“I ain’t no vegetarian, I like to eat men,”

And closed the stone door to his cave to keep them in his pen.

He snatched up two and ate them whole, the air rang with their cries,

“What to do?” thought Odi, for this was a rude surprise.


The giant went to sleep and filled the cave with thunderous snores,

When he woke up in the morning, he ate a couple more.

Then left the cave to tend his sheep while Odi thought and thought

How to escape before two more of his men were caught.

He saw a branch the Cyclops used as a giant walking stick

And sharpened the tip to a point, said “That should do the trick.”


When the one-eyed beast came back home, Odi gave him wine,

The Cyclops took a sip and said, “Well, this is mighty fine.”

He drank it all and said, “Now tell to me your name.

Mine is Polyphemus, a giant of great fame.

If you tell me yours, I’ll give a gift to thee.”

“My name is rather interesting, I am Nobody.”

“Nobody’s a strange name, I’ve not heard it in the past,

But here’s the gift I promised—I will eat you last!”


With that the giant turned to sleep and Odi called his men

To pick up the sharp staff, like a giant fountain pen.

They drove the stick with all their might into the Cyclop’s eye

He awoke in pain and screamed a terrible awful cry.

His neighbors ran straight to his door and asked what was the matter.

“Nobody has blinded me!” Poly raved and chattered.

“Don’t bother us!” the neighbors said, “If Nobody has done this.”

And went away, fooled by that clever Odysseus.


But still trapped in that cave, Odi had another plan,

To grab the fleece of the sheep’s belly, each and every man,

The Cyclops could not feel them when the sheep walked out the door

And so they got back to their ships and set to sail once more.

Before he left, the ‘Dys called out, in anger and in pride,

“If someone asks who stabbed your eye to avenge my men that died,

Tell him it was Odysseus and his gallant hearty men.

Don’t you ever mess with me no more or I’ll do it all again!”

Polyphemus told his Daddy, the big God of the Sea,

And that spelt trouble for our hero, as we soon will see. 



Don’t dis the ‘Dys,’ he did what he could,

To sail his men home safely and get back to his hood.

He used his wits and courage, he acted like a man,

But Fate stepped in, to his chagrin, the gods had others plans. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.