Exelauno is a good Greek word that one learns in first year Greek, reading Xenophon’s Anabasis, which chronicles the march into Asia and back of Greek armies under Cyrus in 401 B.C.E.  The text is richly redundant as the troops march on and on, day after day.  On March fourth, I celebrate my first year Greek class of many years ago:

March Fo(u)rth

Chill morning, mud season in
Massachusetts, not winter, not
spring. Freshman Greek class
starts precisely at 8 a.m. We
trudge with Xenophon’s army,
up from the coast, a day’s march
forty stadia or two pages,
as many as forty new words.

This morning, Peggy trudges
down from the dorm, up into
Sever Hall, salutes her classmates
with “Happy ‘exelauno’ day!”
savors the “Huh? oh!” as they
catch on, pick up her banner,
a signal marking our progress
across Asia, toward spring break.

March fourth as ‘march forth’ day:
Peggy’s pun assures us we will
conquer Xenophon’s long march,
survive our own, gives us
laughter and one Greek word
we’ll always remember.

I noticed as I typed this in that it is in proper Pindaric form: two equal sections as strophe and antistrophe and a shorter conclusion (epode).  Pindar wrote odes in honor of Greek athletes.  This poem is an encomium (poem of praise) for Peggy DeBeers Brown.

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