Wednesday 17 August 2016

Virgil, Aeneid VI

“You are the best of the poets we know,” said the Commissar, smiling,
“Gaius Augustus himself has considered the candidates closely.”
That’s what they’re calling him now, is it? Man’s like a lizard, he’d have you
Shot or beheaded or tortured as soon as he looks at you sideways.
What does a creature like that want with poetry? It’s academic -
Comrade Augustus commands that I write an imperial epic;
He’ll get his hero: betrayer of lovers, survivor and coward.
Yes, I’ll sing out his glories and quietly brand him a falsehood.
I shall be solemn and martial, triumphant, inspiring and lofty.
Buried as deep as a poem permits, I shall give him the secret:
Roman, if you are no artist, you shall be better at killing.
Time hides all things. Tyrants can read this however they want to.

(Note: I wrote this poem in iambic hexameter, the metre in which Virgil composed his Aeneid.)