(after the words of Penny Turner, Nymphaion, Greece)
Our guide turned in her saddle, broke the spell:
“You ride now through a field of asphodel,
The flower that grows on the plains of hell.
Across just such a field the pale shade came
Of proud Achilles, who had preferred a name
And short life to a long life without fame,
And summoned by Odysseus he gave
This wisdom, ‘Better by far to be a slave
Among the living, than great among the grave.
I used to wonder, how did such a bloom
Become associated with the tomb?
Then one evening, walking through the gloom,
I noticed a strange fragrance. It was sweet,
Like honey—but with hints of rotting meat.
An army of them bristled at my feet.”