Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Epitaph to Let (traditional burial package)


Traditional burial package (bichrome), Richmond, California: photo by efo, 24 June 2012

My name was... oh, what’s the difference? I came
from... really, who cares where? Was born, raised, educated
no doubt, in some fashion... does this interest anybody?
And as to how I lived... we won’t go into that. At length,
I died. Here I lie. That’s the one relevant fact.


TC said...

So now you know what the neighbourhood looks like.

The poem wrapped in this traditional (if slightly bilious -- is that me, or is it just the olive drab?) burial package is, or would seem to be, an approximate translation of an epigram from the Greek Anthology. The author of that epigram is Paulus Silentiarius (Παῦλος ὁ Σιλεντιάριος = Paul the Silentiary).

Paulus held the office of "silentiarius", usher and officer responsible for keeping the peace, at the court of Justinian. He died at Constantiniple, c AD 575. Among his eighty-one poems in the Greek Anthology (they were probably collected by his friend Agathias, the sort of friend every poet ought to have -- unless of course one's poems are perfectly awful, in which case the "loyal collector" could in fact turn out to be that one person who's been waiting around all these years to get even), forty deal vividly with love, and another twenty with works of art. Paulus was an early exponent of Ekphrasis (all the rage nowadays, as we hear). His ekphrastic poem describing the restored church of St Sophia was declared by the great Homeric scholar Wilamowitz the last triumph of the high style of Greek epic poetry. For all these dry and dusty reasons Paulus Silentiarius remains dear to the fossil heart; we must bow to him, for his poetic remains shall outlast, if not perhaps all the Great Works of Time, then certainly ours.

And here's his (and our) traditional homey anthem, for good measure.

Mose23 said...

It gave me a very special warm feeling to see that the traditional anthem has its roots in my own county.

And as to how I lived... we won't go into that.

This line is wonderful. Best policy for the greater number of us, I reckon.

TC said...

Yes, definitely. The less said about it the better.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

At the risk of sounding catty, might it not be better to let sleeping dogs lie?