At His Desk, A Pagan Historian Ponders

What can be called the most important Day---

in all of time and all of History?

That is the difficulty, I might say,

that I would like to solve successfully.

Tomorrow is the sabbath that the Jews

keep holy and the rest of us profane.

Is that it?  Or the foundation of Rome

(given short shrift in pius Vergil's poem)?

Some claim the great conflict at Actium

is, for the whole empire, both sign and sum.

Look how the sky darkens, and yet . . . just noon . . .

quickly light candles, this is far too soon

for nightfall.  Now my stomach seems to lose

its equipoise, and logic flees my brain.

Cries from the street:  my neighbors are distraught.

Well, how should I know?  And what common sense

or scientific knowledge could explain---

to satisfy a skeptic's scoffing scorn---

the full process of this experience?

The sun is gone; no glimpse of stars or moon.

My thoughts run wild, like a windstorm of fears.

Why do I think of soneone's mother's tears

(I am not sentimental, and disdain

such demonstrations), or the force of fierce

anguish that is precisely aimed to pierce

her undeserving heart as prophesied.

By who?  Why think such things?  Am I beside

myself?  Why do I feel responsible---

would Plato have allowed this to the soul?

Would he have thought----Nature has paused to mourn?







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