Marriage Is a Painful Matter

(Penelope's suitors) would find death was quick and marriage a painful matter.
The Odyssey, trans. Richmond Lattimore (Book IV, line 346) 

Great Homer! Bard who'll live forever!
Forgive, I beg, a skeptic's view,
Not of Odysseus, the clever,
But of the suitors whom he slew.
They learnt the pain of marriage? Poo!
Their talk of it was foolish chatter,
Though I admit it's very true
That marriage is a painful matter.

It isn't from the sword, however,
We learn this lesson, but the stew
Of feelings mucking the endeavor,
The ones we wrestle with, renew,
Indulge, keep hidden, misconstrue...
It's egos, not just bones that shatter.
Take Menalaus: Now, he knew
That marriage is a painful matter.

It's not I crave that someone sever
My head, but truly, when we woo
We've no idea whatsoever
Of what we're doing, not a clue.
Mere suitors, husbands; twixt the two
There's no comparison: the latter
Have far the greater right to rue
That marriage is a painful matter.

Prince, don't misunderstand me. You
Know well how varied is life's platter.
I dearly love my wife. I do.
But marriage is a painful matter.

first published in Light Quarterly