Design from the cover of CommentaryFive Sonnets from the Forthcoming Work Commentary, by Michael Curtis The Society January 3, 2020 Beauty, Culture, Humor, Poetry 3 Comments Cumæan Below, beyond the tiles now cave’d down, Up from the rubbled earth arose a sound Shrieking in a pitch strung to sting the ear, Some spirit of a hag command I hear Of the low, ruined place that was her home, The Force, the Glory, the Empire, Rome. “Scan ye now these seven, fully rising hills From which arose a people bred to kill, To subjugate all of those around Her, A people who by will extended order, Who whipped the wild, conquered by the rod, Who brought into the world the linking road, We, the lion’s teeth, Mother of the nations.” She spoke in truth, with bare exaggeration. Sementivae & Paganalia Seed has been sown to impregnate the soil; Men after labor have put up the plough; The garlanded bullock rests in the trough: I, Tullus, rest as rest men after toil. Village keep festival, pass round the bowl, Sweet seed-cakes, firm grain, and nutty farro; Ceres give life, Tullus, let Ceres grow; Partners in work, parents make our hearth whole; Flowering tresses, Love wreath’d in laurel, Let your firm gentleness conquer the world; Come! Beat swords into ploughshares, steel into floral; Love away enmity, hatred, and quarrels. Pray to the Goddesses, “May peace grow forever.” Spill the libation, lay scent on the fire. Moveable Ritual after Ides Februarius; Circa, January 24—26 Greater Quinquatrus Grant me fingers nimble as the spider Who rapidly weaves her fine silken threads; Let the tight loom and the swift shuttle spread Woolen patterns as sheer as gossamer. Kind Minerva, divine artificer, Grant me accuracy and give me speed, Allow me to meet my family’s need. Gentle Goddess, please, make me a weaver. You, mistress of a thousand devices, Provide your daughter this singular skill Of web and shuttle, and I shall fulfill Your pattern. Golden-haired Goddess, bless this Crafting you wisely ordained me to do, And I shall give a God-Like art to You. XVI—IX Kalends, Aprilis; March 19—21 Armilustrium I shall surely miss you, pretty flower: O Gladius, you have been sweet to me. Your shapely waist is comforting in lonely Nights; in heat you show a lusty temper, Always fierce, the first to thrust and slaughter. I shall miss you, Gladius. My sweet-pea, Scutum: It was you who kept me free Of holes, of stabs, and slashes. Forever Shall I be fond of you, my good Scutum. Come! And let us step along with tubas, Parade ourselves before the big Pooh-Bahs. Then, we shall take a rest, a wash and groom. Come now, my darlings… it shall not be long Before we march again to battle songs. XIV Kalends, November; October 19 Horatian To live the day fully in emptiness Of song beneath the broadleaved sycamore Knowing today may not give morrow more And yet be happy is the classive bliss. Among the many laureled prayers is this: “A fertile land with basil near the door, A kitchen garden flowered for a floor, An ever-rising spring, a woods sun-kissed, And wanting neither gold nor fettered ceiling, Carrara statues crowded to increase; Instead, unbent to age to be at peace Among some treasured crafts well placed…breathing.” Turn back the empire to good old ways, Republican, return the good old days. Poet’s Note on the term “Classive” Progressive: the belief in human progress through science; most often deductive, top-down, descending. Classive: the practice of human progress through tradition; most often inductive, bottom-up, ascending. Both the Classive and the Progressive pursue perfection, the Progressive by new experiment without sympathy to persons, things, procedures; the Classive by proven practice with sympathy to persons, beauty, goodness, truth. Michael Curtis has 40 years of experience in architecture, sculpture, and painting. He has taught and lectured at universities, colleges, and museums including The Institute of Classical Architecture, The National Gallery of Art, et cetera. His pictures and statues are housed in over 400 private and public collections including The Library of Congress, The Supreme Court, et alibi; his verse has been published in over 20 journals. Mr. Curtis consults on scholarly, cultural, and artistic projects, currently: Curator, Plinth & Portal; Co-Director, The Anacostia Project; Vice-President, Liberty Fund, D.C.; Lead Designer on the 58 square mile city of AEGEA. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) 3 Responses Lannie David Brockstein January 3, 2020 Hello Mr. Curtis, regarding your “Cumæan”, its Line 13 mention a lion, rather than a wolf, which I found to be somewhat strange, considering that in Roman mythology it was a wolf whose mother’s milk fed the abandoned infants Romulus and Remus who became the founders of Rome. Reply Mark F. Stone January 3, 2020 Michael, Hi. I was not familiar with many of the Roman gods, goddesses, leaders and festivals mentioned in your poems. However, after reading the poems and a lot of entries in Wikipedia, I am now more knowledgeable. Thank you for sharing your erudition! Mark Reply Michael Curtis January 14, 2020 …thank you for reading…thank you for the comments. In answer: The eagle was the legion standard; the lion skin, head upon helmet, was worn by the lead standard bearer; for Roman’s, the symbol of Rome was the “lion”; for us, now, the representative symbol of Rome is the “wolf”…going on, we might consider Lupus, Homer, the “wolf’s rage”, all of which is interesting, yet, likely not the cause of confusion. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.