At An Old Philosopher's Home In Alexandria

Tomorrow, the Jews will gather in synagogues
to worship their Deity and to hear and discuss
words from the ancient five books of Moses.


Here in Alexandria are many shrines to many gods---
mostly Egyptian and Greek gods
a few left over from time-trampled civilizations,
whose relics shelter beneath shifting soils
or protrude in piles that attract old scholars.

The most useful gods have been annexed to
Rome in its pursuit of the pax
which serves to promote the profits of their commerce.


Look at the darkness that spreads from the East:
and the day is only at high noon---that must be quite a storm;
was it, I wonder even predicted by forecasters.


But that darkness gives me a metaphor---scribe,take this down:
we grope about in the darkness, for guidance, and find none.
We stumble over obstructions protruding into our paths,
and they are not reliable landmarks for us.
We cry to each other, unable to sight through the darkness,
giving sound to the voices in our minds
that cannot gain sight through our personal darknesses.
We are like senescent, old men---not explorers,
but introspectors only. Our inward emptiness
is the only shelter from outward chaos---
no wonder we have so eagerly embraced it.
The only fulness exists in the sky---
the sun's by day, and the stars' by night;
and all of it beyond our grasp.

Even Tiberius, imperator, stumbles
through the corridors of his pleasure palace.
Not far from the shadows even on Capris---



that also trembles under this strange,
suddenly stilled day's darkness
when the sun should be at its height over all . . .




Author's Notes/Comments: 

The word "explorers" and its negation alludes to T. S. Eliot's poem, "East Coker," the second of the Four Quartets.

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