"Pass softly stranger lest it be your doom To wake the wasps that settle on his tomb."
On the islands, it was allbronze and paintedmarble, war just another
extravagance, a wayfor poor men to slipinto scented boudoirs,
and he, the "thistlewith graceful leaves,"pretended no illusions,
his iambics sharpas a bronze swordon a bronze shield.
Horace owned thirtyscrolls, but we haveshredded papyrus,
glued into masksfor the mummiesof rich merchants.
The work of yearstorn to covera shriveled face,
scraps stiff and frailas the husks of waspslittering his grave. [End Page 222]
Richard Spilman is the author of In the Night Speaking and of a chapbook, Suspension.