The Humber Mouth - Hull Literature Festival 2000 - Thursday 9th November - Sunday 19th November 2000
Open Poetry Competition

OETZI*

"He's so ugly"
They told him,
"Oetzi, go! Leave this place, go
live in the mountains and don't come back
until you are beautiful enough"
He went.
He could not manage loveliness
but fell among the mirrors and froze instead
and hid himself in a blue glacier wrapped
where the stamp of goats' feet could not rouse him.
Five thousand years of passing shadows
Oetzi declined to be more beautiful than he was
and refused to quite go away
but lived on mist and thought.
In time even the ice ran from him
and water called him names.
He was carried down with the mountain clouds
stilled in his eyes, with the earth's
good grain drifted in his gut.
Now the people who told him he must go have gone
and their pretty children's children come
to gawp and gurn and freeze
at his ugly, lonely, everlastingness.

J.D.Taylor, Huddersfield

* In 1991 the body of a prehistoric man - very well preserved - was found as a result of glacier retreat in the Týrol. The Austrians called him Oetzi. The Italians call him Hibernatus and claim him also. Oetzi is now snug in a museum.

"To use ugliness as a reason for the iceman's demise and resurrection is so clever. The focus never falters, with lines like "even the ice ran from him / and water called him names" I found this a moving and memorable poem."

C.A.Coiffait

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