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3 THE ROMANS

Kenneth Verity Shepheard-Walwyn ePub

IT COULD BE SAID that the Romans poured most of their energy into political and military affairs, but culturally (and in many other ways) Rome was a worthy successor to the Greeks. Artistically, it drew its initial productive impulse from Greek civilization, but the outcome had a native inspirational vigour that flourished in its own right. It was at the time of the decisive contests with Carthage (c250 BC) that the Romans, with the help of mature models obtained from Greece, first began the development of a national literature. Fortuitously, Roman copies of the works of antiquity became an invaluable record-source when, subsequently, the Greek originals had been lost. As to poetry, this had a life and development of its own which we shall explore. To help set the context, an outline of certain major events in Roman history is given in the following figures:

Beginnings

 

 

753

Founding of city of Rome (traditional date).

753 BC-

c700

Development of Etruscan culture.

 

Roman Republic

Conquest of Italy and Mediterranean
Expulsion of Etruscans and founding of
Roman Republic.

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Left in Charge

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Subject and Object

It is most rife in Spring, this sudden move

From mind to object with no space between.

It comes as an immediate act of love

When what is wanted is what we have seen.

Maybe all looking is a love-affair

And it was the Impressionists who taught

Most accurately how the eyes can stir

The heart and all that in between is caught.

So on this mid-May morning when I drew

The curtains back, the first mist took me by

Imagination’s storm, so fast I knew

Subject and object are both one, and I

Felt, saw this happen and I say it’s true

And I don’t need to ask the reason why.

Left in Charge

For Anne

No ghosts haunt here or, if they do, they are

Kindly and gentle. When I climb the stairs

There are no creaking steps. I see one star

Greeting me through a window which lays bare

A happy street. Young voices come and go.

A train moves in the distance and it brings

Back echoing times when childhood days went slow

And sleep came quickly. All about are things –

Books, paintings, statues – chosen with large care.

Nothing is unsafe for the children who

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Remembering

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Two by the Sea

We said nothing, we said nothing at all.

We could put out our hands

And link them. We did not.

We have gone

Beyond the frequent touch, the need to cling

Although we know there is a time for these

We watch the sea and in our minds we pack

This bounteous Autumn blue of it. We could

Be the first people in this testing world,

This pomp and ridicule, this power and trust.

The sea is riding in. We watch its spread

Over the castled sand. Now day indeed

Is tired. Nothing at all we said.

Remembering

Do you remember that dark

Wood where we walked in a heat-wave to find some cool?

You must, I think, since all the trees bowed down

And all the shadows made cool shapes for us.

It was unforgettable, for me, because

Our talk was one with the air and the air washed

Over our hands. Between the different trees,

A few patches and openings let in light.

We were talking of knowledge and wisdom. Now and then we

Fell into silence deep and filled with what

We had said and we meditated on it and when

We started to speak again there were fewer shapes

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On the Edge of My Mind

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Because in all mundane and brief affairs

Rich love like this takes hold

Of future when we’re separate. Let tears

Be shed. It shows me love is lithe and bold.

I mutilate the memory of you

When I am fierce with pain

And cannot understand what broke us two,

Who were strong once, in half. But quiet again

I am the gratitude I learnt from your

Strong mind and generous heart.

The past is our good luck, loss is no more

When I think of the love you made an art,

Friendship an act of faith. You are not well,

Are early old and I

Must leave you elsewhere. But you’ve cast your spell

And left a magic which I can live by.

On the Edge of My Mind

It is on the edge of my mind, the tip of

My imagination, it is a

Theme of memory but much more. It is

A search, a ransacking, a bullying of the past,

A fight of my spirit with my spirit

But let me, let me be. I gaze out now

On a windy March four o’clock with a halfmoon already

Chalked on the sky, strangers pace by to a theme,

A rhythm not mine only my thoughts’. I am not concerned

With my childhood or first loving, but the first true flash

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The Red Coat

Idris Anderson Utah State University Press ePub

LILIES

On the new-scrubbed, wet-black chalkboard,

Mrs. Altman printed First Memory.

Stories, she instructed, we must turn up in our minds

like stones, like lizards, like treasures in a pirate’s cove.

Go back, she said, earlier and earlier. Find it. Can you?

Commands. Soft questions. This assignment like hypnosis.

The mind’s a dark place, a tumbled up closet. I did what

she told me and kept my eyes shut. The taste of thumb.

But Eddie Middleton was giggling and kneeing my desk,

and Lindy Riley wore too much, too-sweet, like gardenias,

perfume I had to keep breathing. She was letting her head drop

all the way back, her long hair fell on my hands like a whisper

from a traveler, a rabbit in a long dark hole. The mind’s so fast

falling and tumbling.

I’m trying to see over a shoulder,

maybe Dad’s or Uncle Homer’s. Whoever it is is patting my back

to hush me, but I am hushed, and I don’t like the bouncing.

A blur of window with trees, a table, the picture over the mantle

in my grandmother’s parlor. A picture of lilies. White and green paints

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