Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, OVID, OLD BUDDY, I WOULD DISCOURSE WITH YOU A WHILE, by HAYDEN CARRUTH

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OVID, OLD BUDDY, I WOULD DISCOURSE WITH YOU A WHILE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Upon mutability - if it were possible. But you don't
Last Line: Tremble as if a wind even from olympus were meandering through the room
Subject(s): Ovid (43 B.c.-17 A.d.)

upon mutability -- if it were possible. But you don't
know me. Already you cannot conceive my making the second line
of a poem so much longer than the first.
No matter, mutability is the topic, and I see you there exiled on the Thracian
among those hairy mariners speaking an improbable tongue,
a location of you damnably similar to Syracuse, N.Y., and I see
you addressing your first letter to the new emperor, Tiberius,
looking blankly out to the rocks and the gray ocean
as you search for rhythms and awesome words to make this
the greatest verse-epistle ever written and obtain your pardon, your freedom to
to Rome, so long denied by Augustus.
Do you know me, after all? But of course, how could you not when my words are
your very bones?
You speak to me of two thousand years of solitude.
Yes, you are writing that letter forever.
You tell me how you cannot name your crime because you only suspect what it is
and to name it would make it true.
You are innocent. Tiberius will not grant you pardon. He cannot.
But he can fling those victims, stopped forever wild-eyed in mid-air, off the
precipice at Capri!
Some powers are always powerless.
The change from Augustus to Tiberius, what does it mean,
that instant of mutability continuing forever
between a death and an investiture?
You whisper to me, No pardon, no pardon, no pardon,
and the three sprigs of white lilac in the glass pitcher on my table
that are slightly, but only slightly, wilted --
the stems weakened, the heavy blossom-clusters depending --
tremble as if a wind even from Olympus were meandering through the room.

Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org

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