Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Soldier's Heart"

                         Those suffering from PTSD recognise the      range of side effects-
explosive anger, depression, desires to court danger in order to feel alive,
alienation. Like many returning veterans ,Muirchertach, Mael Duin, Sweeney and
Odysseus try to get home. Home is not just a place, but a return to civilian life,
the normal life, work, family, memories without pain, sleep without nightmares.
Like Muirchertach and Sweeney, Odysseus has bad dreams.
                          When we first encounter Odysseus he sits sobbing on a rocky
shore,his wet eyes scanning the bare horizon of the sea. When Kalypso offers
to help him,he doesn't trust her. He will `take no raft she grudges out to sea.'
As far as his wife and son know, he is dead; after all, he has been missing in action
for ten years. Stripped of fame, fortune, crew, even of his name, he is swept naked
onto an island where, out of hospitality, he is entertained with songs of the
Trojan War. He cannot stop weeping.
                          Before taking place in his home as husband and father, Odysseus,
takes on the role of the beggar and is received into a shepherd's house in the
forest. Part of his healing is to experience the despair and isolation of others.
Stripped down, he finds kinship with the poor and with animals; he is first recognised
by his loyal dog.This simplicity and identification with animals is a motif throughout
all the early stories about battle madness. When healed, Odysseus's instincts work
perfectly. Spectacular physical feats, such as shooting an arrow through a row of
spaced hatchet loops, would be impossible without grace. Healed, he sees clearly
and dispenses justice. Men show their true nature in his presence.
                             He puts an end to violence.
                                                                                                           Patricia McDowell



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