I can trace our falling out
To the day she failed to hear me
When I said, “I am afraid of failure
But the prize is worth the risk,”
And, said she, wholeheartedly,
“I agree, that nothing’s worse
I failed to hear her first, of course,
As she had not heard me,
And so I blundered on and said
I needed her beside me
To push me on, despite the chance
That I might stumble and collapse
Into the mire of failure.
She took my hand and smiled at me
And said, “Of course, I’ll do anything
To keep you from the airy paths,
To pull you back when you come, free,
To the precipice of failure.”
And so our road divided when
We faced a choice of cliff or fen:
I said, “Well, push me on,” and she
Cried out, “no, wait, come back to me!”
We curse each other still, and wince
At failures that have followed since
From follies that could not be seen
For fear of courting failure.
|Latina mortua lingua est,
Ut mortua potest esse:
Necavit omnes Romanos,
Atque necat me!
|(Latin is a dead language,
Dead as it can be:
It killed off all the Romans,
And now it’s killing me!)
The rumors of my death, unfortunately, have not been so greatly exaggerated as one could have wished. As you may recall, I was offered a job about a year ago to teach Latin at a classical school in Concord, North Carolina. This was very odd because, well, several reasons:
- Though I love teaching, I had never taught in a classroom setting, nor had I been trained in any way to do so.
- Though I had decided I wanted to try teaching, Latin was the furthest thing from my mind. I had applied to teach English.
- Of all the positions to offer me, Latin was the least likely. I like languages, but I had never studied any with the diligence that produces proficiency. In other words, I didn’t know what I was talking about.
Nevertheless, the school and I endeavored upon a noble experiment, based in necessity: I needed a job, and I was interested in teaching. They needed a Latin teacher, and they were willing to try me, apparently because I sounded pretty good on paper.
About a month ago, I learned with the finality that the experiment was to be considered a failure. Contracts at our school are offered on an annual basis with no guarantee as to future years. I was not to be offered a new one. Continue reading “In which I tell you everything”
There is so little guise between
The poets, prophets and scientific men,
That instruments have rarely been
Available to measure there
When mortal souls met man to man
Those great creatures, higher-ups,
Never seem to have any truck
With men who want to analyse
And take their measurements,
And quiz them on their sentiment
Of things that sometimes seem
The spiritualists and poets can’t be blamed;
They can’t control these sorts of things.
A man can only testify of what he knows:
That only moments or hours ago
There were astounding creatures
“Yes, I know they’re not here now.
No, I can’t explain it. It’s just amazing how
Some things can always find a way to leave.
My cousin also came by today,
Or maybe it was just a plague
Upon my mind. I have been breathing
Those pernicious gods are always
Making fools of mortal men.
And how they should be pitied, those
Who are gifted with the second sense
Of ear as well as eye:
Always hearing echoes in another realm,
The sounds of mocking laughter
Flowing steadily up and down.
Unless their hearing was acute,
There could be some misdirection.
Who is mocking whom?
I had some wine the other day
And ooh the stuff was rank
Of flavor, full and round and red:
Of alcohol, it stank.
It burned my lips and tongue
Yet warmed me nonetheless
And in my memory of tasting it:
I liked the aftertaste the best.
I tried to drink it seven ways
Sugared, watered down, and plain
And choking, wat’ry eyed,
At last, the open bottle down I laid.
The uncorked bottle filled the house
With it’s alcoholic dew
Until my roommate, in his wisdom
Made a cap aluminum.
Three days later, I made again
A last ditch, whole heart attempt
But refrigeration, or open air
Had rotted it to vinaigrette.
I poured out the bottle and the glass
And let the water behind it fly
And still people wonder, when they ask
Why I’m forever dry!