Monday Meditations: Mumford and Sons and Telemachus

Like many college students, a friend and I got into Mumford and Sons last year. We also got into Greek poetry, thanks to the head of Benedictine College’s English Department. It was only a matter of time before the two collided. My friend realized that a Mumford and Sons song tells a story with a strong connection to Telemachus from The Odyssey. After listening to the song again, my face lit up and I agreed.


“Dust Bowl Dance” by Mumford and Sons.

This is my personal favorite from Sigh No More, the debut album from Mumford and Sons. Now that I see the Telemachus connection, the deal is sealed. “The days were short and the father was gone” makes me think of fatherless Telemachus from the get-go. The connection only grows more Ithacan as we pass the chorus…

“Well, you are my accuser, now look in my face
Your opression reeks of your greed and disgrace
So one man has and another has not
How can you love what it is you have got
When you took it all from the weak hands of the poor?
Liars and thieves you know not what is in store”

If that doesn’t describe Antinous and Eurymachus, I don’t know what does. Check out a select quote from Pope’s translation, if you’re not yet sold.


“There young Telemachus, his bloomy face

Glowing celestial sweet, with godlike grace

Amid the circle shines: but hope and fear

(Painful vicissitude!) his bosom tear.

Now, imaged in his mind, he sees restored

In peace and joy the people’s rightful lord;

The proud oppressors fly the vengeful sword.”

Homer’s The Odyssey, translated by Alexander Pope.


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